David and the Little Goliath Grouper
Florida is a convention destination, but its best, most wildly interesting convention is hidden beneath the surface just offshore. Within sight of the high-rise condos, shopping malls, and Denny’s restaurants is an immense biological pulse of life. Here, scores of 600-pound Atlantic goliath groupers leave their normally solitary existence to mate and spawn on the shipwrecks, ledges, and structures off of Jupiter, West Palm Beach, and Boynton Beach—as well as off the west coast of Florida—from mid-August into October.
These slow-growing, docile giants spend the first five years of their lives in Florida’s mangroves and shallow waters, vulnerable to unexpected cold weather episodes. Protected from harvest since 1990, the goliaths are slowly rebuilding their numbers, fighting their way back from the