A mere 158 kilos of freshly caught fish in Florida waters turned out to be, with 50 years, the “oldest” of this marine species of which there are samples in the state, according to the Commission for the Conservation of Fishing and Wildlife (FWC) .
Biologists from the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) determined that the age of this fish was half a century, “the oldest sample collected” for an animal aging program.
The researchers noted that the otolith, a hard calcium structure behind the brain, of this fish was “extremely valuable” to help determine its age.
According to experts at the FWRI Age and Growth Laboratory in St. Petersburg, on the west coast of Florida, “samples of larger and older fish are rare.”
The environmental entity, which shows in its social networks a photo with the huge specimen of the Epinephelus nigritus or grouper of Warsaw next to the fisherman, said that it was caught with hook on December 29 at about 183 meters (600 feet) deep in Southeast Florida waters.
The grouper of Warsaw, the only one with 10 spines instead of eleven like the rest, is a marine species highly prized for its meat and can reach up to a meter long.
According to the FWRI, although adults are generally at depths of 55 to 520 meters (180 to 1,700 feet), the youngest specimens occasionally move near piers and shallow water reefs in the northern Gulf of Mexico, in Florida.
This reddish-brown species, which feeds on fish and crustaceans, inhabits rocky bottoms more than 61 meters deep, while smaller specimens are closer to the coast.