When Juvenile Nassau Grouper meets Lionfish...

This set of nine pictures are of a juvenile that was just off shore in about 5 feet of water. I had been out looking for a Lionfish that was reported to be in the bay. I had searched and searched, but had come up empty. I was making my way beck into shore when I spotted the grouper. He was a bit curious about me and was staring right at me as I was snapping the series of pictures................

A juvenile Nassau Grouper hiding in the turtle grass.

As I approached, he started to move toward an open area...

Seemingly curious about me.....

..... he swam over and looked up at me.

He kept turning toward me no matter which direction I moved.

Suddenly something caught my eye. I noticed movement right below me.

A lionfish was moving toward the grouper. The grouper then turned away and laid down on the bottom.

As soon as the grouper had backed off, ......

the lionfish turned......and swam away.

Once the lionfish was gone, the grouper got up and once again turned his attention to me

I then removed the lionfish.

It is curious to me that the grouper would seemingly be afraid of the lionfish. Since lionfish are not native to these waters, a young grouper wouldn't know to be afraid of the lionfish. In addition, the grouper was larger than the lionfish, so what instinct was it that made the grouper go into camouflage?  The grouper was afraid of a small lionfish, but not of a giant me? It could have been that the lionfish crossed the invisible proximity threshold that most wild animals have and I did not.  However groupers are not known to be shy.
It will be interesting to see if the grouper is destined to become one of the species of fish that will help control the lionfish population by identifying them as a food source.

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