|Florida Fish: Snapper (3)|
(Lutjanus apodus) The Schoolmaster fish is a
member of the snapper family, and belongs to the grey snapper family
group. It's closest relative is the dog snapper. Schoolmaster snapper
has 39 to 44 scales in the lateral line and is an orange yellow with
reddish tinges about the head .Along the sides of the schoolmaster are
about 8 pronounced vertical darkish bands separated by narrower silvery
bands. The fins are also yellow or tinged with orange. Schoolmasters
grow to two feet and weigh 15 to 20 pounds. An average schoolmaster will
weigh 7 to 8 pounds. The schoolmaster can be found in the western
tropical Atlantic from Brazil to the West Indies and Florida, with the
young scattered widely northward along the coast. Schoolmaster snapper
have been recorded from Cape Cod in early September. The schoolmaster is
found in the shore area along with the grey and dog snapper, but seems
to prefer more open water and sandy bottoms near coral reefs. It also is
found in fresh water sometimes long distances from brackish waters. A
slow grower, the schoolmaster feeds principally on crabs, shrimp,
gastropods, and small fishes. This snapper can be found schooling during
the daytime but breaking up at night during feeding times. It is a
favorite game fish because it bites readily and gives a vigorous fight.
Silk Snapper (Lutjanus vivanus) The yellow iris identifies the silk snapper from its close relatives, the red snapper and the blackfin snapper, both of which possess a red iris. The blackfin also has a vey distinctive black spot at the base of the pectoral fin. Another red-colored sapper, the vermilion snapper, is distinguished by its more streamlined body and deeply forked tail. The body of the silk snapper is red overall, darker above and lighter below with fine wavy longitudinal yellow lines. The caudal fin has a dusky margin. The silk snapper commonly occurs in the western Atlantic from northern South America to North Carolina. It is found in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean as well as around Bermuda. Off Bermuda, the species is common at depths of 400-500 feet during the day, and shallower waters at night. In the Bahamas, it is caught by the Gulf Stream in waters 500-800 feet deep and in the Carolinas in 200-400 feet deep. In studies, the smallest sexually mature silk snappers were a 9-inch female and an 11-inch male. Spawning occurs from late spring through the summer. The silk snapper feeds on crabs, shrimp and fishes.
Vermilion Snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens) Vermilion snapper have streamlined bodies, are pale to silver white below and vermilion above. Narrow yellow-gold streaks, some horizontal and others oblique, occur below the lateral line. The dorsal fin is rosy colored with a yellow margin. The caudal fin is red , but has a faint black margin. The vermilion snapper is found in tropical waters of the western Atlantic from Cape Hatteras to southeastern Brazil, including Bermuda, the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico. The preferred habitat is irregular reeflike bottom in waters ranging in depth from 80-350 feet. In some areas, the species is replaced by its close relative, the yellowtail snapper(see below), which occupies the same type of habitat. All vermilion snapper are mature at 2 years of age and 7.9" total length. Multiple spawning is characteristic of the species, taking place from April to September. Vermilion snapper can reach lengths up to 24 inches, feeding on small animals found high in the water column. Population levels of vermilion snapper are healthy in the Gulf of Mexico. They are lower in the Caribbean and South Atlantic but are above target levels. Overfishing is occurring in the South Atlantic and Caribbean. Vermilion snapper is the most frequently caught snapper along the southeastern United States, but they are not quite as popular to eat as their cousin, red snapper.
Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus) The scientific name a of the yellowtail snapper roughly translates to "swift-swimming golden fish". The coloration is characterized by a prominent lateral yellow stripe originating on the snout, widening on the posterier, nd covering the caudal fin. The back and upper sides are olive to bluish with yellow irregular spots. The belly and lower sides have narrow longitudinal stripes that are pale red to yellow, and the fins are yellowish. The yellowtail snapper is distributed from North Carolina to southeastern Brazil, but most abundant in the Bahamas, off south Florida and in the Caribbean. It appears to have the same role in the tropical reef fish community that the vermilion snapper has with reef fish assemblages in the more northerly latitudes. Both species form schools and are found above the bottom over hard substrates in waters 60-300 feet deep. Spawning takes place from April through August. Most females are sexually mature by age 3, when they are at least 9 inches. The shape of the body and tail and size of the mouth and eye suggest that yellowtail snappers feed differently from most snappers. The majority of animals making up the diet are found on the bottom. Most western Atlantic snappers feed predominantly on benthic fish and large invertebrates.
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