Who Knew? Grouper’s Courtship Is Sexy

The Goliath Grouper Is Endangered Species

       If anyone at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference walked into Sarah Frias-Torres’ talk on Goliath Grouper Friday thinking that fish are not sexy, they walked out afterwards as converts.

         One of five panelists at “Florida’s Iconic Critters,” a discussion about the survival struggles of some of the state’s most iconic wildlife species, Frias-Torres – a marine biologist with the Ocean Research and Conservation Association — brought hilarity with a breathless account of the charismatic fish’s courtship.
       “I have an urge for sex,” she drawled, narrating the thought process of the dour-faced, brown and white mottled fish swimming along the ocean floor, shown on a video screen behind her.
       “Imagine …you see other groupers like you and you say, ‘Well, here we are, we are going to have some fun,’” she continued, explaining that the species – also known as Jewfish and now listed as “critically endangered” – swim up to 100 miles to collective spawning grounds to pick a mate.
       After milling around changing colors to impress one another, a male will zero in on a female.
       “They swim alongside you and they start booming sweet nothings to you, ‘Boom, boom, boom!’” Frias-Torres continued, raising her voice and picking up speed to get the point across.
       “And you say, ‘I’m so ready to go’ and you roll over and show your big belly full of eggs, and they say ‘Boom’ to you at 160 decibels like a jet
engine, saying ‘Let’s go baby!’”
       After the eggs are released and fertilized, “then you are just this big smiling fish, you are all happy … and you say, ‘Honey, I have a headache now. I’m going home.’”
       Her audience, including Fabien Cousteau, grandson of the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, gulped and giggled. Ari Odzer, a reporter with
NBC Miami who was there to moderate the discussion, leaned over and pretended to turn down the volume on Frias-Torres’ microphone.
       “We’ll have a complaint from next door to keep the noise down,” he joked.

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2 responses to “Who Knew? Grouper’s Courtship Is Sexy”

  1. Marchesa says:

    It’s so nice to learn something new about the grouper! I usually think of the fish as a good meal at the local fish market, but never did I ever stop think about its life before it reached my plate.This humorous article certainly cleared up that mystery! This sounds like it was a great speech and I wish I could have been there to hear Frias-Torres’ talk.

  2. Andrea Jacobo says:

    I enjoyed reading your article! I like how you used the same humor that Frias-Torres used to describe the grouper mating process. As I was reading the article, I felt like if I was there in the conference. Great job! The next time I eat grouper for dinner, I definitely explain their mating skills to my friends and family.