Latin name

Epinephelus itajara

Other names

Jewfish, spotted jewfish, southern jewfish, junefish, Florida jewfish, esonue grouper; Fon (spoken in Benin): tokokogbo; French: mérou géant; Portuguese: garoupa, mero; Spanish: cherna, cherne, mero, guasa, meroguasa.


Goliath grouper are yellowish-brown to olive-green or brown. The entire body, including the head and fins, is mottled with dark brown spots and blackish dots. These marks are variable and more noticeable in young specimens. There are irregular dark stripes running vertically along the sides, although, usually, they are not noticeable. The body becomes darker with age as the blotches and spots increase in size and become less noticeable against the background of the body. The first dorsal fin is shorter than the second and not separated from it. The goliath grouper differs from the giant sea bass in its soft dorsal fin rays, of which it has 15-16, while the giant sea bass has only 10. Distinctive features also include are tiny eyes, a rounded tail fin, and large rounded pectoral fins. Specimens less than 11⁄2 feet long bear a strong resemblance to the spotted cabrilla, but they can be distinguished by the number of dorsal spines, of which the goliath grouper has 11 and the spotted cabrilla 10.


In the western Atlantic Ocean, the goliath is found from Florida to southern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Rarely in Florida, the Bahamas, the Caribbean. In the eastern Pacific, the goliath is found from the central Gulf of California to Peru.


Goliath grouper inhabit coastal waters and are usually found in shallow water between 10 and 100 feet deep. They prefer rocky bottoms, reefs, ledges, dock and bridge pilings, and shipwrecks where they may find shelter in caves and burrows.


Goliath grouper can reach 8 feet in length and 700 pounds in weight. The average fish weighs about 20 pounds, a weight of 100 pounds is not uncommon, nor is a length of 4-6 feet. The world record among all gears is 680 pounds. They are known to live from 30 to 50 years.

Life history and Behavior

There is reason to believe that the goliath grouper was originally a female and changed sex later in life, as occurs in some grouper species.

Food and feeding habits

A sluggish but opportunistic feeder, the goliath grouper feeds chiefly on crustaceans, especially spiny lobsters, as well as on turtles, fish, and stingrays.


Spawning takes place during the summer months.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Perciformes
Family Serranidae
Genus Epinephelus
Species E. itajara
Conservation status Vulnerable
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 21.5
Maximum body weight, kg 363
Maximum length, cm 2.5
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Grouper, Goliath

Tags: Grouper, Goliath