The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Research Institute just confirmed via Facebook page that a 350-pound grouper snagged in southwest Florida waters is real. Really big and really old! They’ve estimated the fish to be around 50 years of age.
Incredibly, this goliath grandad was caught in a body of water shallower than 600 feet. According to the FWC, “adults usually occur in depths of 180-1700 ft” while “juveniles are occasionally seen around jetties and shallow-water reefs in the northern Gulf.”
The fish was confirmed as a Warsaw Grouper characterized by its 10 dorsal spines, while most grouper have 11.
Biologists from FWRI’s Age & Growth Lab stated that this Warsaw Grouper is the “oldest sample collected for our ageing program. Acquiring the otolith from this fish was extremely valuable as samples from larger and older fish are rare.”
At the same time, the “FWC does not encourage the targeting of Warsaw grouper since the status of the population in the Gulf is unknown.”