J is for Jewfish

The Jewfish, also called the goliath grouper, is the largest fish on the reef. They are yellowish brown to olive green with the head and fins covered with small black spots and the body containing irregular dark and vertical bars and splotches. Their fins are rounded and they have small eyes for their size body. These massive creatures can reach lengths of up to 8 feet and weigh more than 700 pounds. Jewfish can make a loud sound by vibrating a membrane inside their body. This sound can be heard for long distances and is believed to scare off intruders and possibly locate other jewfish. They have a lifespan up to 50 years.

Jewfish are generally found inshore. They are reclusive and solitary, residing in caves, in ocean debris and under ledges. They can also be found in estuaries, bays, harbors, mangrove areas and shipwrecks.

Jewfish are mostly meat eaters (carnivores). They usually hide in structures until they see potential prey near the area where they are located. They then dash out to engulf the prey and withdraw again to their hiding place. The potential prey consists of crustaceans, octopuses, turtles, fish, spiny lobster, crabs, small seas turtles, spiny puffers and stingrays.

Jewfish spawn at specific locations during the full moon periods of the summer months. These fish travel to the spawning aggregation site, mate and then return to their solitary existence. They must be 4-7 years old before they are mature enough to spawn.

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