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Old 10-16-2016, 10:39 AM   #1
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Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

Observed something last trip that was encouraging and I though you guys would be interested in.

Over the course of a 4 day spearfishing trip, we observed around a dozen Red Grouper with partially digested lionfish in their stomachs. These were all larger Red Grouper, 12-20 Lbs and came from 150 feet or deeper water.

I mentioned this to a couple of friends who run commercial fishing boats and both confirmed that their boats had recently been catching Red Grouper with lionfish in them also.

Over the last 5 or so years, I have occasionally seen an AJ or Red Grouper with a lionfish in it's belly, but very rarely and never two or more during a trip.

The areas we were diving had plenty of bait fish so lack of food wasn't the main driver here.

It seems something has changed and Red Grouper at least are now feeding on them.

Will be very interesting to keep an eye on this and see how it progresses.

To date, the only species that I've seen eat Lionfish are Red Grouper and Amber Jacks.

Safe Diving, Dan
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Old 10-16-2016, 11:56 AM   #2
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

That's one reason why they deserve the nickname "garbage can" Good to hear . I have yet to see anything eat one over here but we have over a thousand pounds so far this year.Hope other species catch on.
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Old 10-16-2016, 02:46 PM   #3
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

Very interesting observation. It is somewhat surprising that there were zero observations of the predation and now you are seeing clear, repeated evidence of it.

The fact that it is in deep water is also significant in that this pretty much rules out red grouper preying upon dead or injured lionfish which have been discarded by recreational divers (which has been observed and documented).

I would think that the larger grouper (of the same genus) would be doing the same.

Maybe the lionfish just needed to get to a certain density before the predation picked up?

I can imagine that the jewfish scientists would be very excited to hear that the reds are eating lionfish; if they could document this for jewfish - then that would be one more reason to keep the fishery closed.. "jewfish would be saving the whole ecosystem".

https://youtu.be/dMjQ3hA9mEA

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Old 10-16-2016, 04:16 PM   #4
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

Diving in deep water off NC a few years ago, Kenny and I watched a school of big AJ's swoop in and eat a dozen lionfish like popcorn. Fast and violent and the Lionfish were consumed.

I've seen maybe a total of half a dozen Red Grouper with Lionfish in them over the last 5 years or so.

Have no real item of why they're doing it in large quantities now. It's almost like the "word" has got out.

Believe me, have spent quite a bit of time discussing this with some pretty salty folks and nobody has come up with a really good reason..

Have not seen a single example of a Gag or Black eating one.

As previously noted, it will be very interesting to see how this plays out.
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Old 10-16-2016, 04:38 PM   #5
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

Couple of weeks ago, while diving/shooting in 80' off Naples, we got 8# red that spit up a partially digested lionfish....guess the red grouper grape vine has been abuzz with new delicacy added to the menu! Glad to hear it!!!!!
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Old 10-16-2016, 07:51 PM   #6
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

Last year this recording was published of a Nassau grouper taking down a lionfish off Little Cayman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKLkQaMY8KQ

It's open to interpretation, but it seems like the grouper might have been trying to chase the lionfish up into the water column where it could get a clean shot at the underbelly, maybe to avoid the dorsal spines. What's curious is I seem to recall a similar video from teh Caymans showing a green moray making an unsuccessful attack on a lionfish, also using the same tactics.

This clip from Belize supposedly is of an unassisted lionfish kill, however without the full footage we only have the diver's word that this wasn't a canned feeding of a speared lionfish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSqeYyW69Wg

Interestingly enough, cooperative hunting has been observed between groupers and morays: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giNH6oHPGmw
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Old 10-16-2016, 10:29 PM   #7
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

One downside is that it would be a bummer to get stuck while gutting your fish!
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Old 10-16-2016, 10:58 PM   #8
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

Uhm....any indication that the spines were digested? If not, I would think it would mean the death of the eater. I know that some fish survive whilst expelling the spines thru their skin. I'm curious as to how the spines are expelled w/o killing the fish.
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Old 10-17-2016, 07:19 AM   #9
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

One would certainty think that if a Red Grouper would eat these things that a Goliath wouldn't be far behind.

The soft "hurt ya" tissue on the tips of the spines seems to dissolve quickly in their gut and wouldn't be much of a threat while cleaning unless the Red had just swallowed the LF. Of course the bare spines could still stick you, a little extra caution while gutting a Red Grouper would be smart.

As far as a Lionfish's spines killing the Red Grouper that swallowed it? Interesting thought. I think probably not . Pretty tough animal that seem to be able to safely digest just about anything. I know the Lionfish spines are a different deal, but I'd still vote that they could handle it.

I'll take a few pics the next time we spear some.
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Old 10-17-2016, 07:29 AM   #10
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nano View Post
One downside is that it would be a bummer to get stuck while gutting your fish!
I have been stuck by several hooks swallowed by mangos will gutting them..
If you haven't been stuck by a lionfish, you will be quite surprised.

But GREAT to know, something might be eating them.
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Old 10-17-2016, 07:34 AM   #11
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

That's great to hear Dan.

As far as hurting the grouper, I doubt it. Groupers, eels, sharks, snapper and trigger fish eat them in the Pacific, I can't imagine our species would be all that different. They just need to recognize them as food, which apparently they are.
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Old 10-17-2016, 08:47 AM   #12
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

Quote:
Originally Posted by shootin-blanks View Post
I have been stuck by several hooks swallowed by mangos will gutting them..
If you haven't been stuck by a lionfish, you will be quite surprised.

But GREAT to know, something might be eating them.
The venom should be broken down quickly by the digestive process, but I am sure a sharp spine would hurt when gutting. This observation is a big deal. Fwc or NOAA should be writing a grant for commercial fisherman to collect gut contents _. This is a big deal
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Old 10-17-2016, 06:13 PM   #13
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

NOAA might close red grouper harvest if they see this!
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Old 10-18-2016, 06:11 AM   #14
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

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Originally Posted by 100days-a-year View Post
Hope other species catch on.
Saw the video today of bees teaching other bees to pull a string to get to food.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...ings-want.html
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Old 10-18-2016, 07:02 AM   #15
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Re: Red Grouper eating Lion Fish

evolution at her finest, All the hype about the Lionfish taking over the reefs and waters is BS they will overpopulate then drop down to a normal relationship with the reefs. Just like in the red sea and in the med. The more you kill the more they will reproduce. Kill them, Eat them sell them they are here to stay. No poison just a protein that is on the spines covered with a sheath. Hot water kills or dilutes the protein. Get stung a few times and it will get less painful each time.
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