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'A big old fish!': 350-pound grouper caught in Southwest Florida

A sample collected from the roughly 50-year-old fish gave biologists the oldest sample collected for their aging program.

FLORIDA, USA — This is not a fish tail: A massive Warsaw grouper was caught off the coast of Florida.

A fisherman caught the 350-pound fish with only a hook-and-line last month on Dec. 29. 

Biologists from FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute's (FWRI) Age & Growth Lab estimate that the fish is 50 years old, making it the oldest fish the group has collected a sample from for their aging program. 

"Acquiring the otolith from this fish was extremely valuable as samples from larger and older fish are rare," FWRI said in a Facebook post. 

Warsaw grouper are characterized by an elongated dorsal spine and adults can typically be found at depths of 180 to 1,700 feet, while juveniles are occasionally seen around jetties and shallow-water reefs in the northern Gulf. 

FWC does not encourage the targeting of Warsaw grouper since the status of the population in the Gulf is unknown.

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