Is The Humpback Grouper The Latest Invasive Fish For The Florida Keys?

Deep-diving spearfishermen surfaced with a mystery Dec. 23 south of Pacific Reef Light off North Key Largo.

“I was shocked when I saw it,” Wayne Grammes said. “It’s an ugly-looking fish with a face on it that looks like a tripletail and a tail like a jewfish.”

The 15-pound, 27-inch fish speared by Greg Caterino of Tavernier turned out to be a humpback grouper — a species native not to Pacific Reef but to the tropical Pacific Ocean off Asia.

“This is the equivalent of a hunter in North America finding a zebra,” said Grammes, who was fishing with Caterino.

“We’ve seen the successful marine invasion of lionfish,” Reef Environmental Education Foundation Project Director Lad Akins said Monday. “We certainly do not want to see it happen again with another Pacific species.”

Akins, a renowned expert in fish identification, confirmed the speared fish was a humpback grouper. With an array of black spots, it’s also known as a panther grouper.

“This is not the first time these have been sighted in Florida,” Akins said. “There have been five or six reported as far back as the 1980s, but all from different parts of the state.”

“The juveniles are really popular in the aquarium trade,” Akins said. “It’s quite likely that this is released fish.”

Young humpback grouper sport a brilliant white color with an attractive spray of black spots. But they outgrow most privately owned saltwater tanks — and cast a hungry eye on other tank fish. “Just like lionfish, they are carnivores,” Akins said.

At 27 inches, the humpback grouper was nearly as large as they grow, Akins said.

Caterino and Grammes, a Miami-Dade resident and frequent Keys diver, were searching a deep ledge about 95 feet down when they saw what appeared to be a black grouper. After it was taken, it was apparent that it was not something local, Grammes said.

The humpback grouper bears a passing similarity to the marbled grouper, a native species that is considered rare.

“This could be only the tip of the iceberg,” Grammes said. “Who knows how many are down there? This was in an area where not many people go.”

Lionfish gained a foothold in the U.S. and Caribbean largely due to their prolific breeding and venomous spines that fend off predators.

Humpback grouper could lack defenses needed to become established, Akins said, “but we really don’t know.”

Due to the possibility of mistaking a humpback for a protected native species, Akins said, people seeing one should report its location to REEF rather than harvest it. To find out how, go to ___

(c)2013 the Florida Keys Keynoter (Marathon, Fla.)

Visit the Florida Keys Keynoter (Marathon, Fla.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow

  • Angler Fish: Just A Little Clingy

    The next time you think your mate is getting a little too attached, just be glad you’re not an a href=”″ target=”_hplink”angler fish/a. According to an h2g2 post, when a male angler fish finds a mate, he clings on for dear life. Perhaps because the angler fish is so horrifyingly unattractive, he feels that any less drastic measure would surely lose her. Thus, he bites into her, attaching himself permanently, linking his blood supply to hers. While she provides nourishment to him, he offers her sperm whenever there are eggs to fertilize. Fair trade-off?

  • Octopuses: A Man’s Greatest Fear

    A man’s greatest fear? Discovery Science reports that in the a href=”” target=”_hplink”octopus/a world, it’s actually expected that a male’s penis will break off during mating. Fortunately, it grows back in time for the next mating season.

  • Hippos: Where Poop Is A Turn On

    There may have been a “Jerry Springer” episode about this… A male a href=”” target=”_hplink”hippopotamus/a attracts a female by spraying her with his feces, Discovery Science reports. And who says bathroom talk isn’t sexy?

  • Flamingos: Just A Touch Of Makeup

    Flamingos may use pigments from gland secretions to improve the color of their feathers, thus attracting better mates. A a href=”” target=”_hplink”study/a from the Estacion Biologica de Donana in Spain found that there was no particular reason for flamingos to alter their colors, except for mating purposes. L’Oreal and Maybelline should look into this new potential client base.

  • Midges: It Sucks

    A a href=”” target=”_hplink”midge/a engages in intercourse by sucking out the male’s bodily fluids. Enough said.

  • Garter Snakes: One Big Orgy

    For thea href=”” target=”_hplink” Red-Sided Garter Snake/a, orgies aren’t just a fantasy, they’re very much a reality. But men, don’t get too excited yet. According to Neatorama, it’s the females who have sex with hundreds of partners during the mating season. The snake ladies release a pherome to attract the men and quickly a “mating ball” forms, which is, just as the name implies, a big ball of snakes trying to mate.

  • Porcupines: It’s No Hazing Ritual

    This a href=”” target=”_hplink”porcupine/a mating ritual could easily be confused for a fraternity hazing ritual. But, according to Discovery Science, a male porcupine will shower a female with his urine before mating, and there’s no keg stand involved.

  • Horseshoe Crabs: If You Like Long Walks On The Beach…

    It’s like an ad in the personal columns: “seeking mate for summertime romance on the beach under a full moon.” Except that for a href=”” target=”_hplink”horseshoe crabs/a, this isn’t romantic, it’s just their regular mating ritual, WIRED reports. This anthropod only mates under these seemingly idyllic circumstances.

  • Elephants: Keeping Romance Alive

    Who said chivalry was dead? The male a href=”” target=”_hplink”elephant/a takes his time to woo a female, courting her over a period of weeks before mating. While flowers and chocolate aren’t included, the male does bring the female food and squirt her with water.

  • Mosquitoes: A Little Love Song

    Who knew such an obnoxious insect could be so very romantic with its own species? a href=”” target=”_hplink”Mosquitoes/a flap their little wings, producing various sound frequencies (or to us, an annoying buzz). While the male normally produces a sound around 600 hertz, the female makes a 400 hertz sound. But compromise is key with these buggers. Both sexes are willing to adjust their sound level to create a harmonic match.

  • Snakes: Like A Magic Trick, Only Better

    According to a BBC article, not only does a a href=”″ target=”_hplink”snake/a have emtwo/em intromittent organs, but it also has the ability to turn its penis inside-out to better fit the female.

  • Dolphins: A Gay-Friendly Community

    a href=”″ target=”_hplink”Dolphins/a are quite a progressive species. Not only are they considered one of the most intelligent animals, but according to h2g2, dolphins also engage in openly gay sex. Male dolphins have been known to practice various forms of intercourse with other males, experimenting with different holes.

  • Ducks: This Is Just Bad

    Apparently some animal species don’t find rape quite as abhorrent as we do. The male a href=”″ target=”_hplink”duck/a, also known as a drake, has a phallus so large that it can be the length of the drake himself, according to an h2g2 post. Due to his size, the drake can have sex with a female without her consent. It is not uncommon for a group of drakes to force a female to have sex, occasionally even drowning her. But the female duck has some defense mechanisms. She has the ability to store sperm in a side chamber and eject it if she is unsatisfied. It is thought that female ducks have evolved to create a complex genital passage due to the threat of unwanted sex.

  • Bowerbird: Not Just a Bachelor-pad

    The male a href=”” target=”_hplink”bowerbird/a doesn’t settle for just any old bachelor-pad to woo his mate. Instead, NileGuide reports that he takes the time to decorate his nest, collecting feathers, flowers, berries, and shells to beautify his home and woo female Bowerbirds during mating season. The female Bowerbird chooses the nest that she likes best, and settles in with a male for the season. Perhaps men emshould/em spend a little more time decorating their apartments.

  • Cats: The Horror

    It may sound like an erotic horror film, but a male a href=”″ target=”_hplink”cat/a has hook-like barbs on his penis, h2g2 reports. During intercourse, the penis cuts the female, encouraging her to ovulate.

This entry was posted in Florida Keys Fishing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Recent Posts

  • Contact Us

  • Facebook page for the War Bird Sportfishing Charter Boat Twitter Account for Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Guide and Charter Boat Captain of the War Bird RSS Feed for Posts from Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Charters - the War Bird
    Google Plus

    To Book a Deep Sea
    Fishing Charter
    (305) 394-7420

    Florida Keys Fishing in Key Largo

  • To Book The War Bird
    (305) 394-7420

    • Sailfish
    • Dolphin - Mahi Mahi
    • Wahoo
    • King Mackerel
    • Tuna - Black Fin Tuna
    • Marlin

    • Yellowtail Snapper
    • Mutton Snapper
    • Cubera Snapper
    • Mangrove Snapper
    • Grouper
    • Kingfish - King Mackerel
    • Spanish and Cero Mackerel
    • Hogfish
    • Amberjack
    • Cobia
    • Baracuda

  • The Fish House
    Key Largo's Finest Seafood Restaurant
    102401 Overseas Hwy
    Key Largo, FL 33037

    Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    Dinner: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
    No Reservations, just come on in!

  • Pages

  • Meta

  • Offshore Sportfishing in the Florida Keys

  • Tags

  • Facebook page for the War Bird Sportfishing Charter Boat Twitter Account for Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Guide and Charter Boat Captain of the War Bird RSS Feed for Posts from Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Charters - the War Bird

    To Book a Deep Sea
    Fishing Charter
    (305) 394-7420