Nassau groupers are extremely intelligent fish that inhabit much of the Caribbean, including the waters around the Cayman Islands. They are curious and friendly, and have been known to follow scuba divers, possibly for companionship, but possibly in the hopes that the divers distract the fish that would make an easy meal for the groupers. Either way, they are a delight to meet underwater and their playful personalities make them a hit with divers.
This Nassau grouper had been following a family as they explored the reef along the wall surrounding Little Cayman Island. The grouper was swimming close to them and even in between them. It was paying close attention to what they were looking at and it even seemed to be curious about their bubbles. Eventually, Serena and Chris put their hands out and the grouper swam closer, seeming to want to be touched.
Their father turned on the camera to record this heart warming interaction. The grouper passed by several times with reach and lingered as they stroked and petted it. This behavior can sometimes be welcomed as an effort to rid themselves of parasites. It's also possible that they just genuinely enjoy being touched. Some groupers are so persistent at following divers at specific dive sites that they are given names. These groupers will occasionally follow the divers for more than half an hour at a time.
Groupers have shown the ability to recognize specific divers, differentiating between people. They will often gravitate to familiar dive masters who spend more time at dive sites than the tourists do. They also recognize spears that some divers will carry to rid the coral reefs of lion fish, a beautiful, but invasive species that is decimating reefs in the Caribbean at an alarming pace. Divers are encouraged to kill these fish to help maintain the health of the reef.
Groupers are particularly enjoyable characters and scuba divers are always happy to have them along as companions.