You can dive with groupers the size of a refrigerator

5 things to know about goliath grouper

Forget diving with sharks. Off the coast of Florida, near Jupiter, you can dive among groupers the size of a refrigerator.

This area is the epicenter of the Atlantic Goliath Grouper aggregation, its spawning activitiy from late July to early October. One of the fish’s favorite places to spawn is the MG-111, “the largely unrecognizable remains of an old Mississippi river barge that lies about 65 feet underwater,” Terry Ward wrote for Thrillist.

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Ward went diving among the goliath groupers (Epinephelus itajara), which can grow to be 8 feet long and 1,000 pounds. Once nearly gone from Florida’s waters, the goliaths have been protected since the 1990s and have made a comeback.

“Suddenly, there they were: a band of eight enormous fish that appeared to be posing like some indie rock group on an album cover, staggered in style and hovering a few feet off the seabed,” Ward wrote.

According to Jupiter Dive Center, you will hear the fish before you see them. The groupers have a “distinctive bark that reverberates throughout your body.”

“At one point, a grouper the size of a refrigerator hurried under me and shimmied into a nook in the wreck,” Ward wrote. “Then I heard it: an underwater boom so strong it reverberated underwater through my body. Known as the grouper’s ’bark,’ the fish make these aggressive sounds with a muscle in their swim bladders as a form of communication during the spawning event. Call it the language of love.”

ajc.com

Although the reefs off the Jupiter coast host a year-round population of goliath groupers, you can expect to see 60 or more during their spawning season. In addition to Jupiter, you can find spawning aggregations in the wrecks and reefs off Hobe Sound and Stuart.

VisitFlorida.com recommends three diving businesses to check out if you decide to go: Jupiter Dive Center, Narcosis Dive Charters and Pura Vida Divers.

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