THE AGGREGATION

JOINING THE BIG PARTY

As the summer reaches its zenith, so begins a spectacle that divers and underwater photographers will not find anywhere else on the planet but Florida – 40 to 90 mammoth groupers massed together at a single location. The nature for these annual concentrated gatherings is a reproductive one lasting nearly two months in length.

Recent studies have revealed that some goliaths will traverse distances well over 300 miles to reach one specific spawning aggregation site. All of which are localized between a handful of sites off Florida’s east coast in Palm Beach County, and over on the west coast in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

The most impressive often takes place on the Zion Train/Esso Bonaire wrecks in Jupiter, Florida. From mid August to the end of September, the artificial reef site plays host to the single largest aggregation of goliath groupers anywhere off Florida’s east coast.

When the waters are clear, as they often are, divers during the course of their dive are likely to encounter 90 to 105 individuals, some up to 7 feet in length, weighing over 450-lbs.

Witnessing this spectacle could cause some to believe the fish are no longer threatened, and have successfully made a comeback. To call it such may be as premature as calling a herd of American buffalo in a game reserve a full recovery for the species.