Watch: Massive goliath grouper gulps a shark in one go off the coast of Florida
Last week, a group of fishermen watched a massive 500-pound goliath grouper gulp a 3-foot-long shark down off the coast of Everglades City, Florida.
Goliath groupers are known to eat everything in their sight and hence are called the garbage disposals of the sea. But little did we know that they devour sharks as well.
Last week, during a fishing trip off the coast of Everglades City, a group of fishermen witnessed a massive 500-pound grouper's jaw open up and suck a shark in, reported Fox News.
As someone in the group rejoiced after catching a 3-foot shark, Captain Jimmy Wheeler with the Everglades Fishing Company saw something unusual. Wheeler saw a large shadow appear as the fisherman started reeling his catch inwards, and immediately knew what was about to happen.
"Watch this. You guys are going to freak out," Wheeler warned.
In no time, the 3-foot-long shark was sucked in and gulped by an open-mouthed herculean goliath grouper.
Michelle, Wheeler's wife, told Fox News that although she did not witness the scene in person, she was stunned. "He just sucked it in. I don't remember ever seeing anything this crazy."
For a few minutes after, the fishermen wrestled with the mammoth fish until the line loosened, telling them that the grouper had finally spit out the shark. However, the fishermen elected to release it back into the sea.
"That same grouper later swallowed a stingray — or manta ray," Michelle recalled her husband telling her. "[Goliath groupers] have become a nuisance, according to a lot of fishermen. They're eating everything."
Due to its consistently declining populations, goliath groupers have been protected in the state of Florida since 1990. By chance, if the fishermen accidentally catch them on the line, they are to be immediately returned to the ocean, unharmed.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) instructs on its website as such: "Large goliath groupers should be left in the water during release. The skeletal structure of large goliath grouper cannot adequately support their weight out of the water without some type of damage. If a large goliath is brought onboard a vessel or out of the water, it is likely to sustain some form of internal injury and therefore be considered harvested."
Goliath groupers are known to grow up to 8 feet long and weigh about 800 pounds. Formerly known as "jewfish", they are characterized by their large mouths and dark striped bodies.
Michelle joked further: "We snorkel and see they'll just go by a fish and suck it in. They're huge. They didn't get that way from not eating."
Grouper attacks are quite common. Back in 2014, a blacktip shark was snatched by a grouper and dragged into the ocean in Bonita Springs, Florida. In a conversation with ABC news, Baryl Martin, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said goliath groupers are known to eat large preys and are usually opportunity feeders.
“They can appear anywhere from 10 feet under the water to much deeper,” he said, also mentioning that they are not a rare sight.