The Goliath Grouper is a solitary creature, dwelling in ocean depths of up to 160 feet. But the massive fish is also an opportunistic predator with a brazen sense of curiosity. On August 19, 2014, a group of Florida fishermen discovered this firsthand.
In a video posted by YouTube user Gimbb14, a 4-foot Blacktip Shark is seen being reeled in. But a closer inspection of the footage reveals the presence of a second, much larger fish lurking nearby. It was a massive Goliath Grouper, and the fisherman’s fresh catch was moments away from becoming bait.
In a Reddit post, the fisherman describes the 2-hour cat-and-mouse game leading up to what happened next.
“[We caught] a 15 lb. Goliath Grouper and brought him up. As I brought him to the boat, the Monster Goliath shown in the video came and tried to steal him.”
But the amphibious cannibalism attempt was unsuccessful, and the group was unfazed in their decision to continue fishing the same spot. Or more likely, their chance encounter with the unknown giant raised their curiosity in hopes of finding out more. And the fisherman were in luck as they began to reel in their next catch, a 5-foot nurse shark. Like a moth to a light, the Goliath Grouper made it’s presence known once again, undoubtedly hoping for a chance to finally satiate it’s hunger.
“As I was dehooking the shark, the Goliath came back and inspected but didn’t attack him,” recalled the fisherman. But the Goliath wouldn’t remain sidelined for long, as the fisherman would soon have a third and final encounter with the opportunistic predator.
Nearly an hour later, the fisherman hooks the 4-foot Blacktip Shark shown in the footage. Like clockwork, the Goliath tracks the Blacktip intently as it’s reeled toward the boat. The demeanor of the Goliath is fearless and determined.
Seconds later, the camera becomes submerged underwater, raising the uncertain notion that amidst the struggle, the fisherman was flung overboard. Such was not the case, as he later explained:
“Thanks for the concern! I just really wanted to see what [The Goliath Grouper] looked like underwater.”
Even still, in the hypothetical event of such an accident, it is immediately unclear which aquatic predator to avoid first. But the Goliath Grouper’s next set of actions would make the answer to this abundantly clear.
As the Blacktip Shark was being raised into the boat, the ever-hungry Goliath made his move, attacking his prey at the last possible moment. With flawless, calculated execution, nary a bite is made to the body of the shark, but instead it is engulfed whole like a vacuum. As he swallows his prey whole, the Goliath breaches the surface of the water revealing the fish’s unprecedented ability to ingest extraordinarily large prey. To digest his newly acquired nourishment, the Goliath Grouper retreats back to the oceans depths, with fishing line and all.
History tells us that the Goliath Grouper is keenly aware of it’s favorable position in our ocean’s food chain, with several recorded unsuccessful attempts of stalking and ambushing unsuspecting divers.
A Goliath Grouper has yet to take a human life, but the possibility isn’t entirely unfathomable as this video evidence shows. But as boaters, divers and other recreation-seekers continue to assume false refuge in Mother Nature’s backyard, they unknowingly take their lives in their own hands.
In the end, the notion of being ambushed and ingested by a determined Goliath Grouper is enough to cause most people to take notice in their oceanic surroundings. But to those who don’t, the consequences could be grim. For the Goliath Grouper is hungry, opportunistic and not very discerning.