There are exciting changes in store at the iconic Aquarium at Frost Science! A new exhibit is being built that will showcase the goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara), a large saltwater fish true to its name. This exhibit will replace the Tropical Pacific Coral Reef exhibit habitat, but don’t worry – you’ll still be able to see those fish and corals in the new Great Barrier Reef exhibit in the museum’s Ocean Gallery.
Our animal husbandry team is currently working on the project and is ready to share some insights with our Frost Science@Home audience. It will take about four weeks in total to build this 17-foot deep, 20,000-gallon saltwater exhibit, which spans all the way from the Royal Caribbean Vista level to The Dive, and will also feature other species of fish. While we wait for our goliath’s new home, let’s learn a bit more about this species.
Top Five Facts About the the Goliath Grouper
- The adult goliath grouper being featured in the exhibit currently weighs about 50 pounds, but these behemoths can reach at least 8 feet long and weigh up to 700 pounds.
- Like most groupers, the goliath grouper is an ambush predator, feeding on large fish (including small sharks) and invertebrates. With their large mouths, they suck in their prey whole and swallow them without chewing!
- Reefs with large numbers of predators like the goliath grouper are found to be healthier than those lacking predators. The goliath serves an important role in food webs, including in the Southeast Florida ecosystem.
- The goliath grouper is classified as “critically endangered” due to overfishing in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Legal protection across several gulf states in 1990 has led to a partial population recovery, but there is still much progress to be made. By including the goliath in our living collection, we seek to educate guests about the past, present and future prospects of this impressive, charismatic and ecologically vital animal.
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