A symbol par excellence of successful fishing (especially underwater fishing), this magnificent species has been threatened throughout the last century by overexploitation, almost to the point of extinction.

I, alas, have been one of the architects of this exploitation, albeit self-limiting in my catches.

Today, thanks to Marine Protected Areas, the grouper population in the Mediterranean is on the upswing. I want to celebrate this success with some iconic images taken in these very areas…







Groupers of the genus Epinephelus are fortunately very (more) common now in the Mare Nostrum, this thanks to the discontinuation of some deleterious pratices (such as indiscriminate underwater and non-underwater fishing) and the establishment of so-called marine protected areas (or Marine Parks – MP), within which hunting activities are banned and underwater activities are regulated. Despite this, this fish (there are 8 different species in the Mediterranean) remains a much sough-after prey, I would say the queen of prey! In addition to this, the grouper is a valuable indicator of the environmental quality of the waters where it lives.

Not many people know that this fish is a hermaphrodite, meaning it is born female and becomes male after about 12 years of age.

This tame-looking predator is also found, outside the Mediterranean, in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and to this genus belongs the famous giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) capable of reaching record-breaking size, exceeding 500kg and 2 meters in length.

Photographing these fish is very challenging because of their acquired distrust of humans (divers). Even if you are in a MP, it is not at all easy to approach them at a sufficiently short distance.

I would say that they are not too high focal length subjects because of the quality of the photo that would be compromised, although some distance would help given the distrust.

Needless to say, grouper should be photographed when diving with scuba tanks of rebreathers, since they live at depths now beyond the reach of even a good freediver anyway and I am not necessarily referring to the maximum depths at which these fish live, which is 200-300 meters.