January is the start of the Nassau grouper spawning season. The Nassau grouper, and other grouper fish, are apex predators. When their populations are in check, it results in a healthy, well balanced reef system. Groupers are facing the threat of over fishing.
During the spawning season, the fish all gather, during the full moon, to reproduce. This event happens once a year. The mass gathering puts a target on the fish.
In 1986 the Department of Environment (DOE) began monitoring their population. Using a variety of methods, such as visual surveys and acoustic tagging, the DOE has been keeping count of the numbers, as a means to create effective management programes.
In addition to the work being done to keep a sustainable grouper population, the DOE is also focused on education. In collaboration with REEF, the DOE hosts the Grouper Moon Education programme. Within this programmes, teachers are trained in lesson material, that showcases the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem. The programme culminates with students, from all three islands, livestream with divers, who answer questions in real time.
To learn more about the grouper population visit the DOE’s website.