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Encountering Goliath groupers while diving is a bucket list experience. You’ll probably hear them first—their distinctive bark booming through the water. Then, when they emerge into view, you’ll realize why they’re named Goliath groupers—these gentle giants can stretch up to eight feet and weighing in at a svelte 500 pounds.
Historically, goliaths ranged well beyond our state’s shores, now, they are primarily found in southern Florida’s waters.
But the population jumps every year between July and September, when they aggregate off Jupiter, Florida to spawn. Diving with sixty or more of these behemoths is truly an incredible opportunity that only a fortunate few get to experience.
Goliath groupers shelter in and around several of our local wrecks, and during aggregation, Jupiter Dive Center routinely visits the Wreck Trek, a series of three wrecks that in addition to the groupers draws in other large marine animals.
The first of the wrecks, the Zion Train, is a small freighter. An east heading will take you to the Miss Jenny, an upside-down barge. From there, a 340-degree course will take divers to the Esso Bonaire—an upright wreck with open holds and a cabin area at the stern where its common to come face-to-face with a grouper.
Another wreck dive is on the MG-111. While this river barge has seen better days, north of the wreck is an area known as Warrior Reef, a collection of concrete pillars that serves as a goliath playground. There, the large fish often stack up in groups facing into the current.
Tunnels, a spectacular reef dive, is a great place to look for goliath groupers and other large animals as well. Bring a flashlight! Several goliath groupers usually hang out by the first of the three tunnels (the source of the dive site’s name). Several more goliaths like to hang out under a substantial ledge that divers will encounter about 25 minutes into their dive.
Goliath groupers are fascinating creatures and if you want to learn more, Jupiter Dive Center is proud to offer an exclusive Goliath Grouper Specialty course where you will learn all about goliath grouper identification, habitat, range, diet and role in the marine ecosystem.