Giant Fish Follows Scuba Divers To Get His Chin Rubbed
Cassanova is a wild Nassau grouper, but he has become very fond of humans. He lives in a marine park off Little Cayman Island and he sees scuba divers on a daily basis. Because groupers are highly intelligent, he has quickly caught on that scuba divers do him no harm and are gentle creatures. Being inquisitive, he is also very likely to follow divers, just to see what they get up to on his reef. He has even become fond of having his chin scratched or his belly rubbed. Perhaps groupers see this as grooming and a potential way to rid themselves of parasites. It's also possible that it's a social thing. Another theory about why he follows scuba divers is that it has to do with an association that he makes, connecting humans with food.
Feeding groupers, or any other wild animal on this reef, is strongly discouraged because it alters behavior of the animals and it creates a dependency on people. It can also upset the delicate balance of the ecosystems, having unpredictable consequences.
Scuba divers have been working hard to remove a dangerous and invasive predator, the Pacific lion fish. These creatures were introduced to the Caribbean and have been devastating reefs with their voracious appetites. They have venomous spines and no natural predators in the Atlantic waters. Groupers will eat them if they are injured, but they cannot avoid the venomous spines of an uninjured lion fish. Groupers have learned that scuba divers occasionally spear the lion fish, leaving them vulnerable. For this reason, they follow divers. Capable of inter-species communication, the groupers will actually signal divers when they have located a lion fish in a crevice. For this reason, Nassau groupers will occasionally perceive humans as a means to get a free meal.
Whatever the reason, Cassanova's friendly personality makes him very endearing, and a welcome member on any dive adventure.