REEF: Grouper Moon Project 2019


REEF scientists and volunteers are gearing up another season of the Grouper Moon Project, a collaborative research effort with the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment (CIDOE). This important project focuses on one of the largest (and one of just a few) known spawning aggregations of Nassau Grouper in the Caribbean. Over 6,000 grouper amass in one location for 7-10 days following winter full moons. For more information, explore the REEF site (also see link at the bottom of the post to donate to REEF). Here is REEF’s latest post.

Did you notice the spectacular full moon this month? To Nassau Groupers like me, a winter full moon is more than just something pretty in the night sky – it represents an important time for the survival of our species. When I see that bright moon, I know it’s time to swim to a special location to spawn with thousands of other Nassau Groupers. These annual spawning aggregations result in our next generation, but it can also be dangerous for us to gather in big groups.

Due to overfishing on our spawning sites at many Caribbean locations, my species has undergone a dramatic decline. In fact, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) now considers us Nassau Grouper to be Critically Endangered.

The good news is, right now REEF’s team of scientists and educators, along with collaborators from the Cayman Islands Department of Environment, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Oregon State University, are here in the Cayman Islands to conduct their 18th year of research to protect my species!

Through the Grouper Moon Project, this passionate team carries out research in support of Nassau Grouper conservation. Project scientists who visit my fellow groupers and me each year at our spawning site in Little Cayman use diverse research techniques, from diver surveys to state-of-the-art technology, to better understand our abundance and life history. In 2016, the Cayman government used findings from the project to develop and pass science-based reforms to fishing regulations, aimed at recovering our local populations.

Source: [Photo above by Ned DeLoach.]

For more information, see  and

• Attend the upcoming “Grouper Spawning” Fishinar on March 5. REEF Fishinars are free webinars about marine life and are open to everyone. All you need to watch is an internet connection and a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone.

• Follow the Grouper Moon Project blog on National Geographic Open Explorer. Check out the blog to learn about current research using our new Trident ROV and see what the Grouper Moon Project team is up to.

• Participate in citizen science by conducting a REEF survey. REEF’s Volunteer Fish Survey Project contains the world’s largest database of marine life sightings. Surveys submitted by volunteer divers and snorkelers can help identify threats to the ocean, including declines in endangered species like me and my friends.

• Donate to REEF. Every gift, no matter how big or small, makes a difference and can help REEF study and protect marine life.

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