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The Blackfin Snapper fish identification, habitats, characteristics, Fishing methods

The Blackfin Snapper is a popular game and excellent food fish, it is marketed mostly fresh. It has red color with yellowish caudal, anal, and pelvic fins. Species get its common name coming from distinctive and prominent dark comma-shaped blotch at the base of the pectoral fins (exact point where each pectoral fin attaches to the body). This snapper has an average length of 12 inches (30 cm) with a maximum length of 16 inches (40 cm) with an average weight 3-4 pounds (1.4-1.8 kg). The blackfin snapper is a carnivorous predator, feeding near the bottom of the ocean, preying on any small fish, shrimp, worms, and other small invertebrates. Adults inhabit deeper waters over sandy or rocky bottoms and near drop-offs and ledges. Young occur in shallower water, often between about 35 and 50 m. Good food fish, it is marketed mostly fresh. It is a recreational sportfish which is caught with hand-lines, rod and reel, traps, and gill nets.
The Blackfin Snapper Fishing Blackfin Snapper, Lutjanus buccanella, also known as blackfin snapper, blackspot snapper, blackfin red snapper, gun-mouth backfin, gun-mouth snapper, redfish, and wrenchman. Their common name blackfin is refers to the dark spot located at the base of the pectoral fins. They inhabit Bermuda and North Carolina to northeastern Brazil, including the West Indies, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea; also reported off Brazil south of the Amazon.

The Blackfin snappers are medium sized (maximum total length to at least 66 cm, commonly to 50 cm), fishes with moderately compressed bodies. Their preopercular notch and knob are weak. They have moderately long snouts that are far below the eyes, terminal and fairly moderate to large mouths, and strong jaws with robust large canine-like sharp and unequal teeth. The canine teeth on the upper jaw are larger than those on the lower jaw. Specie’s palatines are with teeth; no teeth on ectopterygoids. Vomer has teeth in anchor-shaped patch with posterior extension on median line. Maxilla, snout, lachrymal, and lower jaw are not covered by scales while cheek, operculum and membranes of soft dorsal and anal fins are covered with scale. There are 47 to 50, usually 48 or 49 tubed scales in lateral line. Scale rows on back rising obliquely above lateral line. Pelvic fins originating just behind pectoral base. They have 2 nostrils on each side of snout and there are no enlarged pores on chin.
    The Blackfin snappers have a single slightly notched dorsal fin with 10 spines and 14 soft rays that is deeply incised between the spines and soft parts. The anal fins with 3 spines and 8, rarely 9, soft rays are rounded. Caudal fin is emarginate and has 16 to 18, usually 17, principal rays (9 in upper lobe and 8 in lower lobe). Last soft ray of both dorsal and anal fins not elongated. Pelvic fin with 1 spine and 5 soft rays is thoracic, inserted beneath pectoral fin. Their tail or caudal fins are slightly concave, almost straight. They have 25 to 27 gill rakers, 7 to 9 on first arch on upper limb and 17 to 19 on lower limb.
    Their color on a back and upper sides is scarlet red to orange; lower sides and belly silvery to reddish; iris of the eyes is yellow to golden yellow to orange. A large prominent distinct black spot is at the base and in axil of pectoral fins. No dark spot below anterior part of soft dorsal fin; some dark area not always obvious on scales at base of soft dorsal fin. Upper part of caudal peduncle, much of soft dorsal fin, most of anal fin, and entire caudal fin is yellow or greenish yellow especially in species about 16 cm length.
    Blackfin snappers are a bright red fish that are very often confused with red snapper. The most noticeable distinct differences between the two fish are a comma-shaped black blotch at the exact point where each pectoral fin attaches to the body. Often the fins of the blackfin snapper have a yellowish tinge. Finally, the blackfin snapper’s body color is redder, compared to the red snapper’s pinkish-red. They got their name of Blackfin comes from the small black spot underneath their pectoral fin. Also Blackfin could be confused with the Yellow tail snapper or the yellow goat fish, which has different shape. The yellow line on these starts on the tail and end up at the end of their dorsal fin. Its caudal fin is rather truncate-shaped and it has a long pectoral fin. Also, the blackfin snapper has a rounded anal fin in contrast to the pointed anal fin of the red snapper.

The Blackfin snapper inhabit shallow, clear, warm, coastal waters over coral reefs, vegetated sand, and mud in mangrove areas, or other reef-associated bottom types. Adults inhabit deeper waters over sandy or rocky bottoms and near drop-offs and ledges, near rock piles and other structure at 200-300 ft (60 to 90m) deep. Young occur in shallower waters, inhabit rocky outcroppings near reefs at 20-60 feet (6-18 m) deep. The blackfin snapper is often observed schooling in groups of 20-30 individuals.
    The blackfin snapper is a carnivorous predator, feeding near the bottom of the ocean, preying on any small fish within range, crustaceans, cephalopods, and tunicates. Young blackfin snapper feed on shrimp, worms, and other small invertebrates, switching to small fish as they mature.

The blackfin snapper spawn over most of the year, with a peak in April and September, mainly off the coast of Jamaica. Sexual maturity occurs when females reach approximately 7 in (18 cm) and males reach approximately 15 in (38 cm). All snappers are oviparous, meaning they lay their eggs. These eggs and larvae are pegalic, utilizing the ocean currents as a means of dispersal. Early juveniles (20mm) are pale blue with a wide yellow stripe extending from the dorsal lobe of the caudal fin to the middle or anterior end of dorsal fin. There is a dark black spot on the pectoral fin axil in older juveniles, but no dorsolateral spot.

Fishing Methods. Blackfin Snapper are strong fighters like other Snappers. They generally stay well beyond the depths of anchoring. Most are caught while drifting and jigging off cliffs and ledges. This snapper has an average length of 12 inches (30 cm) with a maximum length of 16 inches (40 cm). Average weight is 3-4 pounds (1.4-1.8 kg).
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