Information on Stanley's Cubera Snapper

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Information on Stanley's Cubera Snapper

Postby rwwalleye » Thu May 05, 2016 2:26 am

Hi Everyone,
Here is some interesting information on Stanley's new Cubera Snapper Species.


Description and Distribution
Cubera snapper is a subtropical species distributed across the western Atlantic, Nova Scotia in Canada and Bermuda, to the mouth of the Amazon, Brazil. It also rarely appears in the north of Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico The Cubera Snapper is a popular commercial fish, however, it is known for being ciguatoxic (people are sometimes poisoned by consumption of ciguatoxic fish). It has an elongated and slender body with a long pectoral fin, a continuous dorsal fin and a fairly truncate-shaped caudal fin. Its mouth has thick lips and large teeth. The maximum reported size is 160 cm and 57 kg. It is the, largest of all lutjanidsin the western Atlantic

Preferred Habitat
The species is reef-associated, living inshore or nearshore, over rocky ledges and overhangs. It normally occurs at depths ranging from 18 to 55 m. The young fish typically inhabit inshore mangrove areas and seagrass beds that offer protection from predators. Small cubera snappers are also known to enter estuaries, and tidal reaches of streams and freshwater canals.

Life History
The Cubera Snapper is a large snapper coloured gray or dark brown with pale to dark gray sides. Juveniles have a faintly barred pattern on either side that fades away when age. Cubera snappers commonly weigh around 18 kg and reach lengths of 90 cm ; larger fish are not commonly taken. The species reaches sexual maturity at about 65 cm. It is aggressive and carnivorous, feeding mainly on fishes, shrimps and crabs. The strong canines allow mature cubera snapper to feed on large crustaceans including lobsters and crabs. The species is oviparous, releasing pelagic eggs into offshore waters at spawning aggregation sites. It is a wary fish that is not easily approached underwater by divers and has numerous predators including sharks, barracuda, grouper, moray eels and other snapper species.

Spawning Aggregations
The Cubera Snapper aggregates to spawn from May to September in the waters of the Caribbean during full-moon. In Belize, it aggregates during March to September within a confined area and consistent time (near sunset). During peak season and during the full moon from April to July between 4000 and 10000 fish aggregate to spawn. The aggregations normally take place on outer reef slopes, reef promontories and sandy drop-off areas of the shelf edge. In Puerto Rico, cubera snapper spawn on deep reefs (35-40m). The snapper has also been seen to aggregate to spawn on artificial habitat in the United States. During spawning, hundreds to thousands of individuals may aggregate over deep areas. The eggs hatch within a day of fertilization, producing pelagic larvae that are dispersed by the currents. Whale sharks feed on freshly released cubera snapper spawn in waters off Belize in Central America. The cubera snapper is also known to spawn with other snapper species . dog snapper , gray snapper , sharing both locations and peak spawning times.

In Cuba, The Cubera Snapper has been overexploited as a result of intense fishing effort on aggregations. More than 40% of the annual catch was obtained in July-August, during peak spawning times at aggregation sites and during its migration to the spawning sites. In Belize, cubera snapper is fished during aggregation times at night.
As juveniles inhabit vegetated habitats and subadults inhabit mangroves before moving offshore to deeper areas as they grow larger, the condition of these habitats is important. Conservation of these habitats should be ensured for a viable population of the species.

Conservation & Management
Being one of the important commercial and recreational fishes of the Caribbean, The Cubera Snapper has been fished for decades. It is, however, currently over-exploited with declining populations in a number of locations. Cubera snapper is particularly vulnerable to overfishing during spawning in its spawning aggregations. The species is considered "vulnerable" by the IUCN Red List (assessed in 1996) but the assessment needs to be updated.
Spawning aggregations of commercially important reef fishes, including cubera snapper, have been targeted by fishers and as a result are often severely depleted and in some cases extirpated. Conservation and management efforts for cubera snapper will need to include protection of spawning aggregations because 1) many sites are over-exploited, and 2) dog and gray snappers share the sites and time of spawning aggregations. A fishing closure at cubera snapper spawning aggregation sites has been in place for several years in Cuba. However, the measure does not appear to have been sufficiently or effectively enforced for the recovery of the stocks. It is suggested that, besides protection of spawning aggregation sites, marine-protected areas with multi-use zoning and other fishery management measures, such as enforcing minimum sizes, may be needed.

Belize's most important cubera snapper aggregation site at Gladden Spit is a multi-species spawning aggregation site. The site is largely protected from illegal fishing. It is suggested that the site should form an important component of a marine reserve network. The Government of Belize has initiated such a network by closing some multi-species spawning aggregation sites at reef promontories in 2003.

In Puerto Rico, where fishing of spawning aggregations is known, permanent year-round closures of the relevant sites is suggested to protect the habitat from destructive fishing gear and anchor. The species is partially self-protected because of the presence of ciguatoxins in large fish which make it a less desirable fish.
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