A playful encounter with a Nassau grouper
From tangs to wrasses, angelfish to dogface puffers, we aquarists know our fish have personality. But this young Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) just might take home the congeniality award. The divers are clearly enthralled by their interaction with their new finned friend, so much so that you can sense smiles behind their masks.
Can you blame them?
Sadly, these gentle giants are being overfished and are at serious risk of becoming extinct. Both the scientific and local Caribbean communities recognize this threat and are stepping up conservation efforts to safe these beautiful animals. Yet, a long road and a lot more hard work is required as Nassau grouper populations are still on the decline. Beyond the importance of top predators for their ecosystems (including helping to control invasive lionfish populations), these fish are just way too personable to see them disappear forever. Perhaps if people had the opportunity to play with one in the wild, they'd think twice about fishing them for sport.