Grouper Problems

#1
The last few times fishing (off Playa Miramar) I've come across several grouper just kinda floating in the water, flapping their fins and swimming away in short bursts if you approach/grab them. A few have washed up on shore too, all very much alive but unable to do much swimming. We'd been catching and releasing grouper during this time, but all the fish released seemed to dart off pretty quick and we were only in 20-40 feet of water. Panguero activity is fairly common is this area, but I'm unsure if that has anything to do with is. I'm sure with all the experience of those on this forum that somebody has seen this before and can help explain.
 

Stuart

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#2
Disease, or possibly parasites, but more likely a disease that affects their swim bladders and ability to swim. It's not likely a disease they are passing to each other, like a cold, but is more likely a disease or toxin in something they are eating right now as water temps/seasons change. Seems doubtful that it's bycatch from pangas because the water is not that deep; they should be able to get back down just fine at that depth. I have come across fish floating belly up, sometimes still alive, out fishing the reefs. They always seem a bit bloated, but are otherwise undamaged and not a panga or commercial boat anywhere to be seen.

If you can catch one, maybe drop it by CEDO and see what they can tell you about it? I'd be very interested to know, as well.
 
#5
One thing I didn't mention is they always seem to have darker colors than the ones we're catching, which supports the disease theory.
Here's a pic of one.
 

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Stuart

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#6
All I can truly say at this point is...

:mystery:

Besides that, I'd be super cautious about eating anything experiencing these conditions. Many of the toxins that affect them can kill you. The blue phosphorus tide right now could very well be the source.
 
#7
Floating grouper is not a good sign.. Typically floating groupers are fish released from a fisherman (not many fishermen release groupers) after being caught at depth.
Populations of gulf grouper, leopard grouper, red snapper, and white sea bass are in my opinion way down, trigger fish seem to be abundant. Small bait fish are around but nothing like it used to be. I watched yellowtail competing over isolated needle fish last weekend in Lobos. They normally would be chasing schools of sardines or mackerel.

Fishing friends in RP have had low catches over the last few months after fishing traditional hot spots. Fishing in Lobos is way off-low counts of small fish. The Mexican commercial guys are not even there.

I have always thought the commercial netters upset the balance of the ecosystem by dragging bottom for a few pounds of shrimp and lots of pounds of by catch that is killed and discarded.

It is a complicated thing to understand but mother nature is extremely resilient-I would guess after a year or so of slow fishing, populations can bounce back very quickly.

Please keep us posted on anything you find out about these fish.
 

Stuart

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#10
Typically phytoplankton is a good thing-heathly ecosystem?
One would think. Read the article Jerry posted above. While I doubt ciguatera is the cause in this case, it's not the only phytoplankton out there than can cause issues. And when you get huge blooms, like red tide or the blue glow seen in Penasco the past week or so, it's bound to cause issues with the fish.

One year, we were blue water trolling out of San Carlos. We watched as the sea around us bloomed and turned into the color of mustard and thick like mud. We pulled lines and ran further out to again find blue water. It was like boating through mud! No sooner than we set lines and started trolling again, bam! That area suddenly went off and turned to a huge mustard color bloom. We could not outrun it; it was as far as the eye could see. We pulled lines and headed in through the sludge, which lasted for a good 20 miles. Lasted for a day or so, then was completely gone as if it never even happened.

The ocean can do some pretty strange stuff!!
 

RoadKill

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#11
I had asked about this before here, somewhere.
We've seen a lot of this along the gulf coast. And from what I've read and talked to those affected by cig, you're never really cured of it. It can "flare up" years down the road.

As to the groupers Estevan encountered; try checking the color of their gills the next time you find one.
 

Stuart

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#12
I had asked about this before here, somewhere.
We've seen a lot of this along the gulf coast. And from what I've read and talked to those affected by cig, you're never really cured of it. It can "flare up" years down the road.

As to the groupers Estevan encountered; try checking the color of their gills the next time you find one.
What might different colors tell us? Gill flukes or other parasite?
 
#14
I witnessed the same thing in October when there were lots of fine filament weeds washing up. My two labs were having a ball catching 4 - 8 lb grouper in a foot of water off Playa Miramar. I grabbed a couple from them and they still had some pretty good kick left in them but something definitely amiss. I tossed em up on the beach thinking I'd carry one home on my way back and autopsy it but it was over a half mile from the casa so I didn't bother. I figured it had something to do with the dead weeds washing up. At low tide (1-2') you could see some of them shooting out to deeper water when harassed by my dogs. Way more fun for them then catching crabs or rays!!
 
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