Goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara)
Used to be called the jewfish, because there were apparently few limits to what you could get away with back in the day. Also something something dietary laws, mumble mumble this fish is kosher, I’ve never met anyone who knew enough about Jewish dietary laws for me to trust their explanation as to how the name came about. Long story short, it’s called the goliath grouper now because it’s the size of a goddamned VW bug and casual racism is marginally less acceptable than it was in 1905.
Thanks to a one-two punch of overfishing and the weird lifecycle of the grouper where they’re female until they get big enough to swap sexes (protogynous hermaphroditism), the goliath grouper is only now starting to rebound from a precipitous decline in numbers thanks to a twenty-year general ban on catching them.
So, 10 feet long, 800 pounds, ugly as hell. Why does everyone really like getting their picture taken with them?
Well, these guys are actually like reef-dwelling photobombers. They’re not aggressive—which is pretty convenient, because they eat sharks for breakfast—but they have a reputation for just fucking materializing the second a diver stops paying attention. They’re kind of pushy, have a well developed sense of curiosity, and are surprisingly quick, given their bulk, and they do not fear the hand of man. They in fact are really kind of interested in what the hand of man is doing here in the water. So a lot of these pictures are probably people who were all “La la la I am so happy to be diving this reef is awesome oh my fucking god where did that fish come from it is the size of a sofa and it wasn’t there literally a second ago.”
I love a good blend of humor, learning, and giant undersea troublemakers.