Formerly 'Extinct' 400-Pound Goliath Grouper Caught in South Carolina

A fisherman in South Carolina made an impressive catch last week, reeling in a rare 400-pound fish whose species was once near extinction.

A group that went out fishing on Thursday with Captain Richard Pollitzer managed to reel in a massive 400-pound Goliath Grouper in Beaufort County, South Carolina, according to a post on Tallboy Fishing Charters' Facebook page. It is reportedly one of the first of its kind caught in the area.

"You work your whole life in the ocean for a moment like this," Pollitzer said. "This is the first giant Goliath Grouper ever caught inshore in Beaufort County as far as I am aware."

The charter was reportedly on the hunt for large aquatic life late last week when they made the impressive catch, which took about an hour to reel in.

"We were fishing for monster sharks and had lost a good hook up when this fish ate the bait," Pollitzer explained in the Facebook post. "It didn't act like a shark but I couldn't imagine it would be anything else.

"It was the last thing I expected to see come up after an hour fight," he added.

In a video, a group of men on the charter is in awe at the sight of the massive catch.

"Oh, that's a big shadow boy!" one person exclaims.

As the fish comes closer to the surface, the experienced fishermen are amazed by the catch, as the species is not native to the county.

"Oh my, it's a Goliath! It's a Goliath Grouper!" one shouts. Another reeling in the fish yells out, "Come here," as the man filming repeatedly says, "Oh my."

The Goliath Grouper was identifiable to the fishermen by its "brown or yellow mottling with small black sport on the head and fins," according to a report from WJCL. It also has a wide jaw, a round tail, and in some instances, distinctive stripes on its sides.

The massive catch surfaces at the top of the water near the boat, and the men onboard cannot contain their excitement.

"Holy s**t dude," one says. "Yeah, fat girl!" the man who reeled in the catch shouts as he slaps its belly.

"How do ya like that!" he adds, now trying to pet the Goliath Grouper.

Pollitzer has estimated the Goliath Grouper "to be in the vicinity of 400 [pounds]," although he admits that as this is the first one he's ever seen in person, he "may be off a little." In the comments, he noted that the crew measured the fish against the boat and believe it was about 90 inches long, or approximately seven feet and five inches tall.

The average Goliath Grouper weighs about 800 pounds and measures over eight feet in length, according to WJLC. The fish are not native to the South Carolina county they were found in, preferring shallow tropical waters around the Florida Keys, the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas, and most of the coasts in Brazil and the Caribbean.

"Wow. I'm still in disbelief," Pollitzer said on Facebook. "Needless to say it put wind in Adam and I's sails to keep on pushing."

The video has since been viewed on Facebook over 13,000 times as of publication date. Amazed viewers took to the comments section to express their praise for the impressive and incredibly rare catch.

"Ok, now I'm super jealous! That's a bucket list fish for me! And a shark," one admirer wrote. "So awesome and so exciting. Congratulations. So glad you were able to experience this amazing event. Well done," another added.

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A subsequent post gave viewers a better look at the massive "fat girl," and acknowledged similar catches in the area from the last 15 years.

Pollitzer also added in the comments of the video post that the crew abided by local and national laws around Goliath Grouper catches, and they did not take the fish to shore.

"[Goliath Groupers] are protected. You're not allowed to remove them from the water," he said.

The species was driven to near extinction in the 1990s due to a history of environmental damage and overfishing of the species, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Fortunately, Goliath Groupers were taken off the "species of concern" list in 2006.

But councils in areas where the species is frequently found still have strict laws about catching Goliath Groupers. Along the southeast coast in the United States, Goliath Groupers cannot be harvested and any catches must subsequently be released.

'Extinct' Goliath grouper caught in South Carolina
A Goliath grouper, a species that at one point was near extinction, was caught in South Carolina on Thursday. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Newsweek reached out to Pollitzer and Tallboy Fishing Charters for comment on the impressive catch, but they did not immediately respond in time for publication.

Another angler in Arkansas managed to catch a "rare fish" of his own in May. Its puzzling coloration was due to a rare genetic condition. Last month, a group of researchers confirmed that Madagascar has a flourishing population of "extinct fossil fish," known as the coelacanth, in its tropical waters.