When diving in Grand Turk there are a lot of critters you run into. Some are locals, some invasive, some shy and some are very friendly. The Nassau Grouper is a medium to large sized fish (up to that 55 lbs) falls into the local friendly neighbor category. They have no qualms about following you around your dives. They are handsome fish and range in color from red at deeper depths to beige in the shallows with black spots and forked stripes around the eyes. They are usually solitary and gather once a year to breed in massive groups. During these times, they are more susceptible to overfishing so the Bahamas put a restriction on fishing them during their breeding season.
Nassau Groupers are considered threatened because of commercial and recreational fishing along with reef destruction. Their curiosity and size make them a great catch for locals. They can be found in the western Atlantic between Florida, Bahamas, Brazil and in a few locations in the Gulf of Mexico.
They are bold enough to swim right up to you on a dive. I have even had one follow me around for the entire 40 minutes. When we surfaced the dive master told us that they are waiting to see if he catches any lionfish. Lionfish are an invasive species and a big problem for reefs. They can outcompete, out eat and outsmart their competitors. They also happen to be full of poisonous barbs. The barbs make them an off the menu item for most predators when they are alive. But once dead, the barbs relax and the like of the Nassau Grouper are in for a treat. Divemasters carry small spears to kill any lionfish they find on the reef. The Groupers follow along with the shadow of a promise for a meal. Aside from fine dining on lionfish, the solitary creatures also eat other fish, lobsters, and crabs.