Red Snapper
(Lutjanus campechanus)

Size:
Length - Maximum of approx. 2 – 4 feet
Weight - Maximum of approx. 15 – 50 lbs.

Range:
The red snapper is distributed I the Atlantic Ocean along the southeastern United States, and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Although it is uncommon, these snapper can be found as far north as Massachusetts.

Habitat:
Preferring deeper waters ranging from 30 to 200 feet, the red snapper aggregates around structures like reefs, rocky bottoms, ledges, oil rigs, shipwrecks, and oceanic ridges. Throughout the lifespan of a red snapper its habitat needs change in relation to need for cover and varying food habits.

Diet:
Red snapper feed on other finfish, crabs, shrimp, worms, and squid.

Life History:
Red snapper grow at a steady rate have a prolonged lifespan. Individuals have been recorded to live for nearly 60 years in the Gulf of Mexico. These schooling fish reach maturity at the age of two, but will steadily increase their reproductive output over the years. The larger individuals over the age of 15 contribute the majority of offspring into the population.

Importance to Fisheries and Aquaculture:
Red snapper is the most economically important fish in the Gulf of Mexico for both the commercial and recreational fishing industries. In the Gulf of Mexico alone over 8 million pounds of red snapper was harvested. The commercial sector alone accounted for nearly twelve million dollars in red snapper sold at the dock. As the price of red snapper remains high, the fishing pressures from both recreation and commercial sectors will continue. Thus, it would be extremely beneficial to enhance the stocks through aquaculture production of juveniles to be released in the while. The development of responsible stock enhancement strategies could yield tens of millions of dollars in additional economic gains in the Gulf Coast region.

Fun Fact:
Red snapper found in deeper waters are considerably more β€˜red’ than those found higher in the water column. All red snapper have pronounced canine teeth, which is the reason this group of fish is referred to as snapper.

The largest red snapper recorded was caught in Louisiana in 1996. This fish weighed in at 50 lb. 4 oz.