Q is for Queensland Grouper

The giant grouper, or Queensland grouper as it's known in its native Australian waters, is the largest reef-dwelling bony fish on Earth. Full-grown individuals can grow to nearly 8.8 feet and weigh an astounding 880 pounds. That's about the size of two adult male gorillas.

Q is for Queensland Grouper Illustration

The species is found throughout the Indo-Pacific and has the widest distribution of any grouper. These solitary animals inhabit shallow waters, often sheltering in caves or among shipwrecks. They are ambush feeders that prey primarily on spiny lobsters, as well as fishes, small sharks and sometimes sea turtles. Groupers are efficient eaters, typically swallowing their meals whole.

Juvenile Queensland groupers are black with large white splotches and yellow-orange fins. As they age, their colors transform into a mottled gray-green with black-spotted fins. When it comes time to breed, the fish release eggs and sperm directly into the water, a process called broadcast spawning.

Queensland groupers are vulnerable to extinction, primarily due to overfishing. Though widely distributed, the fish are not locally abundant. Even in unexploited areas, their numbers remain low, and they are often caught before reaching sexual maturity. The grouper's gall bladder is thought to have medicinal properties, and the meat of younger individuals is popular on menus around the globe.

Queensland Grouper

Possibly the most famous Queensland grouper belonged to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The grouper, nicknamed Bubba, was the first fish to ever receive chemotherapy as a treatment for cancer.

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