I spoke to Randy Jordan (Emerald Charters in Jupiter Florida) over a highly disturbing trend we are witnessing here in the waters of Palm Beach County involving a few individual spearfisherman who are actively going out and willfully killing goliath grouper. At first we had been hearing rumors of this taking place up off Stuart, and in the southern Gulf, now it appears that there is some truth to it with fish starting to turn up dead or gravely wounded with spear shafts buried deep in them here in North Palm Beach County waters.
The first reported incident took place back in the early half of this July on Bonaire/Zion Train wreck site, also called the Jupiter Wreck Trek, off Jupiter Florida. The fish apparently survived its encounter loosing the shaft a week later. Since then there have been four more such incidents.
The first on September 6, 2007, which Randy found alive with spear lodged in it’s mouth after someone apparently shot it at the Bonaire/Zion Train wreck site, also called the Jupiter Wreck Trek. The video of him wrestling with fish is on YouTube.com (video taken by Terri Roberts) in order to free it of the shaft, which he did successfully, and now has the shaft and tip in his possession.
The second fish was found dead September 22, 2007 with a shaft clean through its gill covers after someone apparently tried to free shaft it. You can see a photo of that fish. Again both of these fish were found on the same Bonaire/Zion Train wreck site.
In addition to these two more recent fish, a third fish was caught the same week on video by Jay Cashmere of WPTV, Channel 5 News while they were shooting for their news program Underwater Wednesdays at the Bonaire/Zion Train Wreck site which shows a shaft buried deep in its side.
Gerry Carroll at Jupiter Dive Center found the same fish on two more occasions a week later. The first time taking pictures of it after failing in they’re attempt to catch it to remove the shaft. The second time, dead, from both the wound and starvation. Gerry did retrieve and identify the shaft as one coming from a European type/style gun. Different from the ones used on the two fish Randy ran across the same month.
The fourth fish, September 29, 2007, was shot and then apparently stuff under a ledge near the Hole-in-the-Wall after the shaft was removed.
Note: All five of these fish were shot at two known spawning aggregation sites, four of which during the peak month of their spawn season which is September over here on the east coast. And this is only the fish we do know of, which brings the question of those we haven’t run across yet.
As of now there is a $1,500 reward (sponsored by Emerald Charters and Scuba Works Dive Shop) for any information leading to the arrest of the poacher (s) that is doing this. For more information call Randy Jordan at 561-248-8332.