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Cozemel groupers and fat in their diet

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2004
Back in the early 80's, before they had a protected marine park, the dive boat crew would fish for lunch on the same reef we would be diving. Back then I used to see the largest groupers ever in the 300 to 400 pound range. I would routinely have four or five in the 200+ group follow us thru an entire dive, hoping to be feed. The dive masters would feed them on ever dive, as well as a lot of divers. I watched one grouper inhale an entire raw chicken!!! I watched another one inhale a large scorpion fish that the dive master had gently pryed off the sea floor to show everyone in the dive group, when one giant grouper zipped up within a foot and opened his five gallon bucket sized mouth and sucked him right out of the dive masters hands. There was always a constant stream of hotdogs and hamburger patties and bread given to these groupers. These things would get to enourmous size quickly.

When I have dove there in the last few years, I haven't seen the really giant groupers anymore, only the 80 to 100 pounders. When I asked a longtime divemaster on the boat about it, he said that the mass amount of food the groupers were eating was killing them. He said that they would get to enourmous size quickly, but then would become lathargic and would just sit on the bottom under a ledge. He said they wouldn't even move when they touched them. Also he said their eyes would glaze over and they would become almost unresponsive. He attributed this to the huge amount of fat they ingested into there diet. He said fish are not used to eating huge amounts of fat and grease, but their natural lean prey of fish. This seems to make sense to me, what do you think?

P.S. The bigger dive boats no longer feed and discourage divers from doing the same.

If you don't feed'em, they won't come.

Seriously, that kind of diet certainly isn't good for the fish, but if they stopped feeding'em, it won't be long before the fish figure it out and stop acting like moochers. You would see less of them.

Of general interest, jewfish, the big grouper you were seeing, normally grow very fast. I don't remember the exact numbers, but a 200 pounder is something like 4 or 5 years old. That is much different from the rest of the groupers in the Western Atlantic. Really big blacks, gags or yellowfins are 30 plus years old.

Hi cdavis!

I respect your opinion but i DONT AGREE with it!

I'd rather not see the groupers because they are not coming than not seeing them because they DIED!!!
uummm, seems like the limitations of the internet have tripped us up again. Freediver81, I think your post means that you think I approve of feeding. I don't approve of feeding fish human food, bad for them, especially if it is done a lot and some fool with a spear comes along and spears a pet fish. Sorry for the confusion.

I do suspect that dallasdiver is seeing less fish because they don't feed'em, not because the fish died. Could be wrong.

I've done my share of feeding sardines (grouper bait, comes in frozen 5 lb blocks) to grouper while tanking with my wife or other people who don't often see a lot of fish. Its a scream to get 5 or 6 little grouper excited enough to take bait out of your hand while two or three big ones are hanging in the background, too wary to approach but going crazy because the little ones are getting a meal. The big ones are fish I might shoot on another day, and they seemed to know it. I don't think I changed their behavior much.

feeding fish is quite common for tournaments and competitions in both angling and spearing. many fishermen, wether it be on a rod or with a gun, will often develop a strategy that involves placing food at a pre-determined location and time that they can come back to later during the tournament. also, we all have done some recon while on scuba. all in all, i think that the basic theme is not to introduce something unatural, such as chicken, and rather use something that the fish would normally eat, such as cuttlefish, small crabs, etc that fall within a specie's normal diet. i use bait in combination with my aspetto, others use chum.
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