Grouper Moon season is here! REEF scientists, partners from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Oregon State University, and volunteers are gearing up for the annual field effort of the Grouper Moon Project, a collaborative research effort with the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment (CIDOE). 2022 will be the 20th year of this important project, which studies one of the largest and last known spawning aggregations of Nassau Grouper in the Caribbean. During winter full moons, thousands of grouper gather in one location for 7-10 days to spawn. Since 2002, our team has conducted groundbreaking research to study these Nassau Grouper spawning aggregations to help ensure recovery of the populations of this iconic species.
This year, we are staging field teams to Little Cayman in both January and February. While we typically focus on just one month, 2022 is considered a “split year”, meaning the full moon dates are right on the line of predicting which month will be the strong spawning month. In addition to continuing annual monitoring research, we will be hosting several live-feed videos on REEF's YouTube Channel as part of the Grouper Education Program. In 2011, with support from the Disney Conservation Fund, REEF launched the this program to engage Caymanian students and a worldwide audience in the project. This exciting initiative brings the Nassau Grouper into elementary and high school classrooms through lesson plans and the live-feed sessions connect classrooms with scientists in the field.
The Grouper Moon Project is widely regarded as one of the biggest ocean conservation success stories, due in large part to science-based, proactive legislation passed by the Cayman Islands government. To learn more about the Grouper Moon Project, see results, and find links to documentaries on the project, visit www.REEF.org/groupermoonproject. You can also keep an eye on our social media platforms for updates from the field.