Northern Red Snapper
Northern red snappers are a species of snapper native to the Atlantic Ocean. They have a large head with small red eyes and a somewhat pointed snout. The body and fins are pinkish-red in color, lightening to a white underside. At a size, less than 14 inches (35cm) northern red snapper has a dark spot on the upper sides below the anterior soft dorsal rays – similar to several other snappers.
Northern red snappers are usually solitary, however, they often occupy areas with large numbers of conspecifics (same species) during spawning periods. They eat crustaceans and other fish, but will also consume worms and mollusks. Northern red snappers generally spawn offshore, often over sandy areas near reefs where the seabed is generally between 600 and 1,000 feet (183 and 305m) deep.
Northern red snappers are fished commercially throughout their range using hook-and-line methods, although they can also be taken as bycatch in shrimp trawling operations.
Red snapper is often caught in the area between 12 and 35 inches (30 to 90cm) with roughly equal numbers of fish within that range, though most are less than 20 inches (50 cm). They usually weigh at least 2 pounds (1 kilogram), with larger fish reaching 6 pounds (3 kilograms) or more. Males are generally larger than females.
Other common names include red snapper, mangrove snapper, gray snapper, black molly, black snapper, barber pole grouper (the red band behind the eye), chub snapper, coral trout (larger specimens can resemble jacks), and coastal trout (larger specimens).
A very popular game fish, the northern red snapper is a strong fighter and can put up a battle for anglers of any experience level. There is a minimum size limit of 14 inches to harvest this species, however many snappers are caught before they can reach that size. The current world record was caught in Florida.
The northern red snapper is a right-eyed flounder that has limited vision in both eyes. It can be distinguished from other species of snappers by the dark spot located on the upper sides below the anterior soft dorsal rays. The body coloration ranges from pale pink to bright red, with dusky to black margins on the fins.
The northern red snapper has a large head with small, subequal eyes located on the left side. They have an oblique mouth with expanded lips, three pairs of spines on the preopercle (i.e., gill-cover), and two dorsal fins located behind the anal fin origin. The first dorsal fin has six spines and the second dorsal fin has one spine and 18 soft rays.