Volume 5 Number 5
Nassau Grouper in Your Face
at San Salvador in The Bahamas
Once plentiful throughout the Caribbean, Groupers like this Nassau Grouper are becoming uncommon.
That is too bad, because these big, beautiful, and friendly fish are fun to see while diving. This Nassau Grouper was about 16 inches long. It was hanging out at the edge of the sand near coral reef at the top of San Salvador's underwater cliff. It was curious about the divers, because it would swim up to the divers, staying a few feet away.
Groupers are "lurk and lunge" hunters. They hang out near tunnels and caves, and wait for small fish to come to them. They have big bodies and large fins, so they aren't very fast swimmers. But their huge tails and pectoral fins give them great acceleration. They can jump forward through the water, opening their huge mouths to catch smaller fish.
So, why are all the Groupers disappearing? Well, people are fishing for Groupers. Groupers eat Damselfishes, and other small fishes. But people are catching so many Groupers that there aren't many left, and there aren't enough to keep the Damselfishes in check. With no Groupers to eat them, Damselfishes are overpopulating the reefs. The result is that there are too many dead patches of corals, and too much algae. Without the corals, the entire coral-reef ecosystem will be in trouble.
You can learn more about Nassau Groupers, Tiger Groupers, and overfishing on the ReefNews website. Please visit these ReefNews web pages:
Hemingway and the Reefs of Bimini - for more about Overfishing
ReefNews photographer Jonathan Dowell took this photo using a Canon A2 camera with a 28-105 mm zoom lens in an Ikelite housing. The photo was taken on October 22, 2001. To help protect this Grouper and others like it, I'm not going to tell you where we saw it.
|This picture first appeared on the ReefNews CD-ROM, "San Salvador: Jewel of the New World." Order your own copy of this educational CD-ROM from the ReefNews Online Catalog.
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