SFDJ gets Science first!1
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"Search for the Spawn"..the Video

Dan, Here are my comments. They are basic notes to interpret Goliath Grouper courtship and spawning behavior, then a play by play analysis. Sarah

Basic notes on goliath grouper lovemaking: Sex is assigned by color display. Based on what we know from other grouper species, the dark phase is assigned “male”, normal color and light color is assigned “female”. The only way to assign sex conclusive is by capturing the fish, taking a biopsy sample, and seeing whether there are eggs, or sperm in the biopsy. That will interfere with the normal courtship and spawning behavior.When female groupers (as in many other fish) are getting ready to spawn, they hydrate their eggs. So they have a distended abdomen (swollen belly). This is usually interpreted as a sign of impending spawning event.During courtship, male and female goliath groupers swim next to each other, this is called pair swimming. Compared to what we know form other grouper species, this type of courtship is assumed to help in synchronizing the male and the female, so they are on the same agenda when the spawning event occurs.

The Video....( can be watched in full 1080P) Min 00 - 1:40 Typical hiding/pekaboo behavior at Zion wreck. Stirring up sand here, just a consequence of being so close to bottomI see 3 Groupers (maybe 2 and one repeat) with a yellow tags. Can you do a still, zoom in and with some enhancement find out the tag number? [1:38] - one grouper with hook. May I get a good still photo of it? Min 1:41 - 3:19......Groupers seem to be shy, running away from you and from light Min 3:20 - 4:39 [3:47] - Normal color grouper (assigned female) shows white mucous material coming from vent, and apparent swollen abdomen. Might be sign of impending spawning. [3:56] - Dark goliath grouper (assigned male sex) with white protuberance at vent. Might be sign of impending spawning or spawning already completed. Appears to be pair swimming with normal color grouper (assigned female) from 3:47. [4:08 - 4:18] Same “male” and “female” still pair swimming. [Note: in these sequences, the baitfish around the groupers is stressed out because there are jacks trying to eat them] Min 4:39 - 5:25 This is the site by the anchored listening station (light blue cylinder you see hanging off seafloor) Confusing activity. Non conclusive Min 5:25 - 5:47..............Min 5:47 - 6:45....................[5:50] One grouper with yellow tag difficult to see, far.Really fast camera moves, kind of seasick Min 6:45 - 7:05.......Avoidance behavior again......Fast sequences [First morning dive Zion]......Here groupers seem more relaxed, not as active as at the night dive. I don’t see any distended abdomen (swollen belly). I have a feeling spawning already happened the night before. [9:14 - 9:33]....Really good sequence of one Goliath Grouper (unknown sex) exaggerating normal color pattern from very sharp to more subdued. You have to look carefully to see it. This fish is displaying to the diver ahead of it, and it’s an example of the very delicate body language goliath groupers use to communicate with each other. [10:39}...What’s that thing attached to the dorsal part of the grouper?