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Epic Goliath diving and more deaths +

Discussion in 'Florida' started by Amazz, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. deepstops

    deepstops Blacklight Poster ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Weston, FL
    I don't know Dan, they seem to like eating lobster just as much as I do.
  2. danvolker

    danvolker Contributor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
    Yeah they do, but apparently they stink at successful capture and consumption of the lobster..This from the stomach contents percentages over statistically signifcant populations..most lobsters are able to avoid the goliaths. Now if you want to offer a lobster to a goliath, they will be all over it :)
    Jax likes this.
  3. ReefGuy

    ReefGuy Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Punta Gorda, Fl.
    Any particular reason you are singling out spearfishermen?
  4. Murfdizzle21

    Murfdizzle21 Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Jupiter, Florida
    Probably because Goliaths aren't afraid of divers, so if they were to open a season, it would be very easy to shoot them with a spear gun
  5. danvolker

    danvolker Contributor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
    Because from what I have been hearing from locals, it IS this group that is pushing for it....
    I know plenty of people in the sport fish community, and I don't think they will be against us....I actually think they will be on our side for many important issues ..issues like this.
  6. dumpsterDiver

    dumpsterDiver Banned

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    I thought you were talking abou the FSU study which is the subject of this thread and also is involved in the collection of fin rays for age determination. Apparently, you are speaking about this lady's research which remains "classified" for a few more weeks.

    Perhaps you can elaborate on that study, its objectives etc. ? From what I am gathering, one of the primary goals of that study is to determine the population of GG in Florida? In both the Gulf and Atlantic? Is that one of the objectives?

    As for some of your other comments about fisherman and GG interaction... I think there are a lot of misconceptions within the fishing community about what the normal diet of GG is. However, we should not ignore the fact that at certain times and certain locations, GG "steal" a large percentage of the fish (grouper, snapper, jacks) which fisherman are attempting to land with hook and line (or even a speargun).

    I think the big disconnect between what the fisherman observe over and over (i.e., opportunistic predation on grouper/snapper) and the results of scientific studies as to the normal diet of GG represents a huge "public relations" challenge that has not yet been addressed very well by the scientific community.

    I think it is important to recognize that, the groups of people who feel that this species of grouper should be managed to sustain a harvest (recreational and/or commercial) is much more diverse than a few "greedy commercial spearfisherman". In fact, there seems to be a growing awareness among responsible spearfisherman that spearing of this fish might never be "politically feasible" and that any future (very limited) harvest would be of a recreational nature using hook and line gear.
  7. rjnjupiter

    rjnjupiter Bad A$$ Honey Badger!

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Jupiter, FL
    Unintended mortality? For real? Is that scientific code for its ok to kill a few. Try that with Cancer research. Mortality of these fish is NOT ACCEPTABLE!

    ---------- Post Merged at 01:11 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 01:07 PM ----------

    You can count and tag fish underwater. Don DeMaria did it for years and provided much of the population counts. FWC will take the info and public input and determine if there is a sustainable fishery. Follow them and voice your opinion there.
  8. dumpsterDiver

    dumpsterDiver Banned

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999



    As for underwater sampling etc. Those types of activities are also being utilized by the same researchers. However, some of the necessary information can not be collected without bringing the fish on board a vessel or those methods would be used.

    This is an email that I was copied on. It was written to a local person in response to an inquiry. It was written by the principal investigator at FSU who is responsible for the local sampling Dr. Koenig. Chris has said that he would have no problem with me posting his communication, however he made it clear that he does not have the time to engage in a lot of back and forth discussion on this type of forum.

    I have also attached a few photographs that Chris sent in his communication. I should emphasize that the photographs show the removal of gear from other fisherman that the GG were burdened with, this is not gear/line/weights that were used by the researchers to capture the fish.

    Date: Tue, 02 Oct 2012 12:25:02 -0400
    To: ****@jupiterdivecenter.com
    From: Chris Koenig <koenig@bio.fsu.edu>
    Subject: Re: FW: Goliath Grouper /FSU research

    Dear ***:

    I am responding to the query you sent to Angela Collins regarding our sampling of goliath grouper off Jupiter. First, I thank you for your interest in this fish and its recovery. I grew up in WPB and dived in the area in the 1950s and 1960s. I enjoyed seeing goliath grouper on almost every PB inlet dive in those days, but overfishing brought them to near-extinction in Florida in the late 1980s. Our research team has been studying their recovery since 1994 after the complete prohibition on catch in 1990.

    Federal law states that the fishery for goliath grouper cannot be re-opened until the population has reached 50% SPR (spawning potential ratio). That roughly means that 50% of the historical, unfished spawning population is necessary for the sustained production of the species, so until that 50% benchmark is reached, no fishing is allowed. Of course, many are dying because of hooks lodged in their gills due to their propensity to eat fish on fishermen lines, mortality from catch and release, incidental catch mortality from the bottom long-line fishery, and, of course, poaching, or illegal fishing. A major part of our job as researchers is to estimate the age distribution of the population, as this measure is critical in determining SPR. We are also studying spawning patterns and regional diets. But, important to your interest is the removal of dorsal fin rays.

    Fin rays lay down rings like the rings of a tree, so if we collect those rays we can age the fish, but, as Angela states, those rays must be sampled very deep so that the earliest annual rings, those of the smallest fish, can be sampled. Otherwise ages will not be accurate. The dorsal fin will grow back, as I'm sure you have seen small notches in those fins--this indicates that they were sampled at some time in the past, but the fin rays grew back. We found that it takes a little over a year for the fin to reconnect completely. So, that notch in the soft dorsal fin that you see on many individuals is an indication that we sampled the fish at one time. All those fish are also tagged with PIT tags, the same tags people use to tag their pets for identification. So, if all external tags are lost, we can still identify that fish.

    As I said above, the age structure of the population is critical in determining SPR and federal law mandates that determination. There are only 2 alternatives for getting age structure from the goliath grouper population: 1. take fin rays and let the fish look "mutilated" for about a year, or 2. kill 800 to 1000 goliaths to sample otoliths (ear stones) which are located in the brain. We are aware of no other alternatives. We choose to keep the fish alive so the ecotourism trade can benefit from these spectacular animals.

    The reason why we are sampling in your area off PB and Martin Counties is because that is the spawning area for the Atlantic coast of Florida. We have documented the fish traveling over 200 miles to get to your area just prior to the start of the spawning season in August. If we sample there, and during the spawning season (Aug and Sep) we will have a representative sample of ages from the entire region. Spawning is winding down now, so the fish should be moving back to their home sites soon.

    You mention that the wounds from our fin rays sampling are "infected". We have not seen that on all our dives and with all our recaptures (we have sampled over 450 fish off the Jupiter area). I suspect that what you are seeing is a freshly sampled individual in which the wound is red and ragged. This redness soon goes away and the fin starts to heal, so the direct impact of fin ray sampling on the health of the fish is very minor and never results in mortality.

    I should mention that we remove hooks and leaders from their gills and stomachs of goliaths when we sample them which presumable increases the likelihood of their survival. See attached pics of a goliath we recently sampled. So far, only 3 goliaths have died from our sampling--much less than 1% of our sample of 450. But, I believe that through the removal of hooks and leader, we have saved many more. Two fish that died were lost because our hook ripped the leaders of other hooks that were lodged in their gills and thus caused excessive bleeding. In only one did our hook imbed in the base of the gills--we got the hook out, but the fish likely died from hemorrhage.

    I am glad to see that people like you are interested in this species and its recovery. I've attached 2 of our papers so you can learn more about them. This will give you the information you need to provide your clients with the information they need

    You can also get more information from our website:
    Coleman And Koenig Research Laboratory The more people like you and your clients that become involved with this important issue--protection of species that are extremely vulnerable to exploitation--the more the law will be on the side of conservation. We all believe that this spectacular fish is worth lots more alive than dead, but for the time being, we must get the data to comply with federal law.

    You must know that there are many fishermen and fishing groups who are strongly pressuring both state and federal agencies to open the fishery for goliath grouper. Such an event would knock your non-lethal enterprise of observation and photographing goliath grouper to zero within one year. So, I urge you to look past the relatively minor issue of our fin ray sampling to the conservation of this species and other reef species so that future generations can enjoy the experiences you have now and I had when I was a boy.

    (NOTE: I sent this message with the papers but the message got rejected. This is the second try without the pdfs.)

    Very best wishes,

    aquaregia, danvolker and Scott L like this.
  9. Scott L

    Scott L Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: North Palm Beach, FL
    Yes, Randy, it seems a bit nuts. I recall reading 5+/- years ago, that the scuba industry's economic impact in Palm Beach County was in excess of $300M. I am quite sure that the attraction of the GG's represents a much greater economic benefit as opposed to the economic rewards of unshaven alcoholic line fisherman legally catching these majestic creatures...

    DD, ditto. Very informative post.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  10. sportxlh

    sportxlh Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: formerly Palm Beach Gardens, FL: now Atlanta
    dd: Thanks for posting the e-mail. The embedded link to the Coleman & Koenig Research Lab is very interesting. This is certainly a difficult subject given Amazz's and other's recent observations layered upon the need to ensure these beautiful beasts are not brought to the brink of extinction again. Still not sure exactly what I think about all of this...... again, thanks for posting.

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