BAHAMAS REEF FISH (43): CUBERA SNAPPER
The cubera snapper (Lutjanus cyanopterus) is the largest snapper species. Adults may grow to 5′ long but they average around 3′ long and weigh 40 lbs or so (the record apparently stands at a massive 126 lbs). These are game fish, and they are a commercially important species. They are also IUCN listed as vulnerable, perhaps for that very reason.
10 CUBERA SNAPPER SNAPPY FACTS
- The largest of a large number of snapper species in the western Atlantic
- Feed on fish, shrimps & crabs, with large strong teeth (see pics) and jaws
- Among their (few) predators are sharks, barracuda, and moray eels
- Edible, but beware of the danger of CIGUATERA poisoning
- In summer months, spawning is governed by lunar cycles
- Cuberas form huge spawning masses (to 10k) in offshore shallows
- Sadly the resulting eggs and larvae are rich pickings for predators…
- Youngsters live in sea grass or mangroves for protection
- Cuberas are game fish with commercial importance
- IUCN listed as vulnerable – largely courtesy of mankind (see »)
Overfishing is one of the greatest threats to the species. Those young fish that are not predated naturally and grow to adulthood are targets for fishermen. There’s no prissy ‘catch & release’, as with bonefish. At spawning time, as the fish instinctively (and predictably) mass as the moon dictates, so do the human predators. The spawning sites are where the best protection can be given, to ensure the annual reproductive cycle is uninterrupted. If not, ‘vulnerable’ will soon give way to ‘endangered’…
I’d been going to pull apart a long recipe for the “wonderfully sweet white meat ” of this fish for the tastiest morsels of info, then (not being a cook) I quickly tired of the idea. Sorry to disappoint.
Credits: Melinda Riger for the wonderful photos; range map from wiki; magpie research pickings, including (but not limited to ) Nat Geo