Volume 4    Number 6

The Nassau Grouper: Ambassador of the Caribbean Reefs

Nassau Grouper greets Tessa Dowell

This friendly Nassau Grouper swam right up to Tessa Dowell for a close look during our visit to San Salvador, The Bahamas in November 2002. The Nassau Grouper is noted for its friendly behavior. These fish sometimes allow a close approach, allowing diver and fish to get a good look at each other.

Tessa met this Nassau Grouper 40 feet underwater at a secret reef near San Salvador. We are keeping the exact location a secret, because overfishing of Nassau Groupers could eliminate these fish from reefs close to shore. Groupers are important for the health of Caribbean reefs. One reason Groupers are important is because Groupers eat Damselfish. Damselfish eat algae, and will kill corals to make room for their algae to grow. If there are too few Groupers, then there could be too many Damselfish, and the coral reef could be destroyed. Groupers help keep a healthy balance of these fish on Caribbean reefs.

Nassau Groupers are caught by fishermen because these fish are delicious and bring a good price in the marketplace. Demand for Groupers has led to overfishing. You can learn more about illegal fishing for Groupers in the Bahamas on the ReefNews Bimini website.

Coralations is an organization in Puerto Rico that is working to protect the reefs near Culebra. Coralations is using this picture of Tessa and the Nassau Grouper on a poster that will encourage fishermen to protect those reefs. By protecting a sanctuary where Nassau Groupers can reproduce and grow to adulthood, scientists and fishermen can help maintain the Grouper population so fishermen can take Nassau Groupers from nearby areas outside the sanctuary. This practice of maintaining underwater sanctuaries may help prevent overfishing and also keep some of Caribbean reefs healthy for divers and snorkelers to enjoy. Read more about Coralations and the reefs of Culebra at their website, www.coralations.org.

This Nassau Grouper was about 18 inches long and weighed about 20 pounds.



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