Big, friendly fish follows scuba diver for chin scratch
Groupers are large fish that live in most waters in the Caribbean. They are highly intelligent and although they are capable predators, they often work in groups, and even with other species to catch prey. They are so smart that they have learned to follow scuba divers in the hope that they can benefit from the humans spear fishing lion fish, an invasive species that is destroying reefs in the Atlantic Ocean.
Groupers are also very curious and often, very friendly. They have the ability to recognize individual divers and will occasionally approach and greet specific people, as if they are happy to see them.
This grouper has gotten to know the divers in this group that is cruising along the top of the reef on the north side of Little Cayman Island. The grouper, known as "Gary" by those who see him regularly, has followed his friend, Dave and kept approaching to look at him and swim around him.
Dave decided maybe Gary wanted a little attention and he reached out with his hand. Gary swam up and sniffed and Dave scratched under his chin. After Gary repeated this a few times, Dave turned on the video camera and recorded what was happening. Gary seemed to enjoy the interaction and he stuck close to Dave for the rest of the dive, until Dave made his way over the coral reef and back to the shallows. But Gary will be waiting the next time Dave and his fellow divers visit this dive site. He's a regular at this site and he usually finds the divers to check them out.
Gary is a Nassau Grouper. They grow to a size of 30 pounds. Although there are many Nassau Groupers around the waters of the Cayman Islands, they are actually critically endangered. Seeing a grouper like Gary is always a treat, especially when they come close and interact as he does.