Beneath the calm of the ocean, deep under the warm summer waters, giants begin to gather. One by one they arrive after their long journey, stopping only once they reach South Florida's beautiful coast. These gentle giants stare wide-eyed as curious divers navigate above them. Amidst giant schools of baitfish, hundreds of these incredible creatures aggregate for the sole purpose of creating the next generation of giants.
At the end of each summer, from mid-August through September, Goliath Groupers take over numerous South Florida reefs and wrecks as they come together to spawn. Driven to Palm Beach by instinct and the urge to mate, they aggregate in mass traveling from as far north as Georgia and as far south as the Florida Keys and Gulf Coast. Growing from four to eight feet long, these friendly fish can weigh upwards of eight-hundred pounds making them giants of the sea. Divers often hear the Goliath’s familiar “Boom,” which echoes loudly through the Atlantic. This loud and stirring noise signals a mating call between the groupers. One boisterous “Boom,” soon begins a crashing symphony of loud calls in return, and within weeks of their arrival the spawning takes place.
Deep wrecks disappear behind schools of these large and friendly fish. Lurking in between concrete pylons and inside wreck corridors, divers glimpse into the ever-growing marine life habitat that many of these friendly fish call home. Crabs, an important portion of this habitat, act as the grouper’s primary food source; however, Goliaths can be opportunistic feeders once they arrive as they fast for the entirety of their long migration. Their annual aggregation marks the culmination in the species’ mating practices, ensuring young grouper begin to roam the sea. Increasingly popular, these annual aggregations attract divers from across the globe.
The mass aggregation thrills those who delight in both marine life and conservation. As a protected species, Goliath Grouper maintain their safe haven in Florida’s Atlantic ocean. In the not so recent past, these gentle giants were fished to near extinction, hung up as trophies, and almost disappeared from the Florida waters. Now, under Federal protection, their populations are beginning to slowly rebound. Instead of luring them on-board, visitors now celebrate their arrival greeting them beneath the ocean. Artificial reefs such as “Warrior Reef" and the "Mizpah Corridor" are favorites of the Goliath Grouper, offering them habitat and shelter. The “Warrior Reef” comprised of high school building materials and the Mizpah wrecks interior hull, provide habitat large enough to suit the Goliath Grouper’s grand stature.
As Goliath Groupers begin to re-establish a healthy population, those above the surface work to advance public awareness about these incredible creatures, and the importance of their continued protection. If you would like to see Goliath Groupers please contact Pura Vida Divers to schedule "Grouper" dive. With trips going out each and every day Pura Vida Divers strive to create a fun and safe diving experience for guests of all diving levels. Call us at (561) 840-8750 or find us online at www.puravidadivers.com.