350-pound grouper caught off Florida coast believed to be 50 years old

A 350-pound Warsaw grouper caught off the coast of Florida is believed to be 50 years old, making it the oldest documented fish in a Florida wildlife research program.

Jason Boyll caught the grouper Dec. 29, 2019, in about 600 feet of water with a hook and line in southwest Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Wildlife Research Institute.

“Acquiring the otolith from this fish was extremely valuable as samples from larger and older fish are rare,” wildlife officials said on social media.

Otoliths, or ear stones, are used to help researchers determine a fish’s age.

Warsaw groupers can grow up to 90 inches long and 580 pounds and typically live in depths of water at least 200 feet. Juveniles can be seen inshore around jetties and shallow-water reefs.

“(The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) does not encourage the targeting of Warsaw grouper since the status of the population in the Gulf is unknown,” wildlife officials said.

The largest Warsaw grouper caught in Florida was 436 pounds, according to wildlife officials.

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