You may want to stay on the boat. This part of the ocean doesn’t belong to you.
It belongs to this beast, the Atlantic goliath grouper. And if you wander too close to those shadows, you may not come back out. So what would happen if this giant devoured you?
What part of you would the fish eat first? Could you outswim this predator? Or would you have to escape out its other end? Yeah, that end.
Reaching weights up to 360 kg (800 lb) and lengths of almost 2.5 m (8 ft), the Atlantic Goliath grouper fish stalks its prey from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. This massive fish can take down small sharks and even an occasional human.
Their lack of fear has allowed humans to get close to them and hunt them to dangerously low levels. With their numbers down by 80%, the Atlantic goliath grouper is a critically endangered species. Plus, its low speed makes it an easy target. So how could a fish this slow catch you?
An opportunistic predator, the Goliath grouper can spend hours in dark holes waiting for the right moment to eat everything in its path. This type of grouper lures large fish and invertebrates by just opening its mouth. And if you linger for too long in one area, this predator could eat you alive. Its mouth opening is so huge that the negative pressure it exerts sucks everything in its vicinity inside the grouper’s mouth. But what would this rapid change in pressure do to your body?
The inside of your body builds up nitrogen gas when you swim deep underwater. When you’re near the surface, your body can expel the gas quickly. But when you’ve been down deep, you need to ascend slowly and give your tissue time to let the gas out naturally.
But if an enormous grouper is lurking behind you, ready to open its mouth and suck you in at any moment, you might start to worry. When your body undergoes a sudden shift in pressure, the excess nitrogen in your body could expand and form bubbles in your bloodstream. If the negative pressure was too intense, it could give you a stroke or even paralyze you on the spot. But could you get away from this fish? It’s not that fast. Right?
You might be able to outswim this Goliath, but you would also have to survive its tremendous sonic blast. This beast might contract the muscles around its swim bladder and release a shockwave that would stun you. So you’d need to keep moving.
But if this monster came at you full speed, it would have its mouth open, sucking in the water and everything around it. And while this grouper could have up to five rows of pointed teeth, they aren’t for chewing. They’re for keeping you inside and moving you further into its hungry mouth.
Unless you have an oxygen tank, you will drown inside this cavity. Water would fill your lungs, and with your air cut off, you could experience severe brain damage. But if you had some way to breathe in here, this horrific journey wouldn’t end in the Goliath’s mouth.
From this enormous cavern, you would travel down the fish’s esophagus into its stomach. And there, you might meet an even worse end. Like being stuck in a washing machine, the fish’s stomach would churn and grind you while coating you with its digestive enzymes. Unfortunately, this massive muscular organ evolved to hold large prey just like you. But don’t worry. You only have one stop left, although I don’t think you’re going to like it.
If you think you could escape out the, uh, backdoor of this fish, think again. The pylorus, a sphincter muscle, prevents any waste from getting through until the fish is ready. You would have to wait until the fish expels its waste before you could think about swimming away.
If your body somehow survived this attack, your mind would be disoriented and scared. You would need to control your breathing and watch the direction of your exhalation bubbles. Follow them up to the surface. And remember, go slowly. After everything you’ve been through, the last thing you need is the bends.
- “If You Get Vertically Disoriented When Diving, How To You Figure Out Which Way Is Up? – Quora”. 2021. quora.com.
- “The Physics Of Negative Pressure”. 2021. Discover Magazine.
- “What Scuba Divers Need To Know About Depth And Pressure“. 2021. Tripsavvy.