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The Lane Snapper, Lutjanus synagris. Illustration by Diana Rome Peebles 1998. Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Marine Fisheries.

Species Name: Lutjanus synagris Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name: Lane snapper
Candy striper
Rainbow snapper
Synonymy: None
  1. TAXONOMY

    Kingdom Phylum/Division Class: Order: Family: Genus:
    Animalia Chordata Osteichthyes Perciformes Lujanidae Lutjanus

    Other Taxonomic Groupings

    Superclass: Osteichthyes
    Subclass: Neopterygii
    Infraclass: Teleostei
    Superorder: Acanthopterygii

    Species Description

    Lutjanus synagris is and oblong, somewhat compressed snapper with a moderately deep body. It may grow to a length of 36-60 cm (14-24 inches). The dorsal fin is continuous with 10 thin spines, the fourth of which is the longest. The soft portion of the dorsal fin has 12-13 rays and is somewhat angulate posteriorly. The caudal fin is emarginate. The anal fin is rounded with 3 spines, the second of which is more robust than the third, but of equal length. There are 8-9 soft anal rays. The pectoral fins are short, not reaching to the anus. Scales are small and ctenoid, with 47-52 lateral line scales. There are 13-14 gill rakers on the lower limb of gill arch. The head profile is nearly straight from the pointed snout to the nape of the neck. The mouth is large and terminal, with a band of villliform teeth on both jaws and the vomer. The upper jaw also has 4 canine teeth, 2 of which are enlarged. The preopercule is finely serrate superiorly with coarser spines at the angle. Body color is variable but typically a silver to silver-pink or reddish. The dorsal surface is often tinged with green and darker vertical bars. A series of 7-10 yellow horizontal stripes run along the sides, while diagonal yellow lines run above the lateral line. The anal fins, pelvic fins and the distal portion of the dorsal fin are yellow. The proximal portion of dorsal fin is reddish. A diffuse black spot, larger than the eye, is set above the lateral line but below the soft dorsal fin

    Potentially Misidentified Species

    Lutjanus synagris is similar to a related species, the mutton snapper, L. analis. The two are distinguished based on the shape of the anal fin: L. synagris has a rounded anal fin, while L. analis has a pointed anal fin.

  2. HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION

    Regional Occurrence

    In the Western Atlantic, Lutjanus synagris ranges from approximately North Carolina south to Brazil including Bermuda, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. It is most abundant near the Antilles , off Panama, and on the northern coast of South America.

    IRL Distribution

    Juveniles are common in inshore areas where they utilize seagrass beds as nursery habitats. Small adults are found within the IRL, especially near inlet areas. Mature adults tend to be found in offshore waters.

  3. LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY

    Age, Size, Lifespan

    Lutjanus synagris reaches a maximum size of approximately 60.0 cm (23.6 inches) total length (TL), and a maximum weight of 3.5 kg (7.7 pounds) (IGFA 2001). They live approximately 10 years (Manooch and mason 1984; Allen 1985).

    Growth rates in lane snapper were reported by Rodriguez-Pino (1962) as 2.0 - 4.0 mm/month (0.07 - 0.16 inches/month) based on back calculated lengths at mean annulus formation in otoliths.

    Reproduction

    As with most snappers, Lutjanus synagris spawns offshore in groups (Wicklund 1969; Thompson and Munro 1974). Age at maturity is in question for many snapper species, with most authors relating maturity to length. Thompson and Munro (1974) reported that both male and female lane snapper become sexually mature at approximately 18 cm (7.1 inches) fork length (FL). Allen reported sexual maturity at 10 - 23 cm (3.9 - 0 inches). The spawning season is protracted with seasonal peaks in activity (Erdman 1976). In Cuba and Florida, Lutjanus synagris spawns from March through September, with peaking activity from June - August (Rodriguez-Pino 1962; Manooch and Mason 1984). Off Puerto Rico, Erdman (1976) reported peak spawning in May.

    Fecundity was estimated by Rodriguez-Pino (1962) as 347,416 - 994,787 eggs per female for fishes measuring between 225 - 335 mm (8.8 - 13.1 inches) FL.

    Rodriguez-Pino (1961) reported that lane snapper sometimes hybridize with yellowtail snapper.

    Embryology

    Eggs are pelagic and measure 0.7 - 0.8 mm (0.02 - 0.03 inches) in diameter (Rodriguez-Pino 1962; Allen 1985). Hatching occurs after approximately 23 hours at 26°C.

  4. PHYSICAL TOLERANCES

    Temperature

    Rivas (1970) reported that Lutjanus synagris were collected in waters ranging in temperature from 16.1 - 28.9 8C (60.9 - 84.0 °F), with a mean of 24.0 °C (75.2 °F).

    Salinity

    Juveniles utilize estuaries where salinity fluctuates with the tidal cycle. Springer and Woodburn (1960) reported that Lutjanus synagris are collected in waters ranging from 19.1 - 35.0 parts per thousand (ppt), though most adults utilize offshore waters where salinity approaches 35 ppt.

  5. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY

    Trophic Mode

    Most snappers are classified as euryphagic carnivores (Bortone and Williams 1986). The bulk of the diet consists of fishes and crustaceans (Randall 1967). Rodriguez-Pino (1962) reported that Lutjanus synagris consumes fish (32% by volume), crustaceans (28%), annelids (12%), and mollusks (1%).

    Predators

    Primary predators of snappers are sharks and other large predatory fishes including other snappers (Bortone and Williams 1986).

    Habitats

    Lutjanus synagris adults are typically found at depths of 30 -120m (98 - 394 feet) (Rivas 1970; Thompson and Munro 1974). Juveniles utilize vegetated inshore waters in estuaries and bays and are common in seagrass beds (Bortone and Williams 1986). Adult utilize coastal and offshore areas, either natural or artificial (Bortone and Williams 1986), including coral reefs, vegetated sand bottoms, rocky hard-bottom. Mature fishes tend to remain in an area once they have become established (Bortone and Williams 1986). Lutjanus synagris sometimes forms large schools, especially during breeding season.

    Activity Time

    Lutjanus synagris feeds primarily nocturnally (Bortone and Williams 1986).

  6. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    Fisheries Importance

    Commercial Fishery
    The commercial fishery for lane snapper is not especially valuable in east central Florida, averaging less than $3,000 annually. In 2003, for example, the commercial fishery accounted for only 10% of the annual statewide catch, with the bulk of the harvest (90%) being taken by recreational anglers. The statewide commercial catch of lane snapper, Lutjanus synagris, between the years 1987 - 2001 was 1.3 million pounds, with a dollar value of over $1.6 million. Within this time period, 29,785 pounds of lane snapper were harvested commercially in the 5 county area encompassing the IRL (Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin Counties), with a dollar value of just $41,221 reported. This ranks the lane snapper seventy-sixth in commercial value within the IRL, and eighty-third in pounds harvested.

    Figure 1 below shows the dollar value of the commercial lane snapper fishery to IRL counties by year. As shown, the commercial catch ranged from a low of $614 in 1987 to a high of over $5,331 in 1995. Martin County accounts for the largest percentage of the lane snapper catch with 39.5% in total (Figure 2), followed distantly by Brevard County, which accounts for 21.6% of the total. Volusia, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties accounted for 18.3%, 13.1% and 7.4% of the total respectively. Of interest is the steady increase in lane snappers harvested in Martin County from 1991 - 1995, followed by an a sharp decrease in catch for the next 3 years, 1996 - 1998.


    Figure 1. Annual dollar value of the commercial catch of lane snapper to the 5-county area of the Indian River Lagoon.

    Figure 2. Total lane snapper dollar value and percentage by county for the years 1987 - 2001.

    VOLUSIA BREVARD INDIAN RIVER ST. LUCIE MARTIN TOTAL
    YEAR Value ($) Value ($) Value ($) Value ($) Value ($) Value to IRL
    1987 $267 $133 $151 $54 $9 $614
    1988 $229 $252 $215 $110 $11 $817
    1989 $95 $621 $17 $194 $21 $948
    1990 $107 $558 $70 $124 $75 $934
    1991 $161 $375 $198 $317 $1,186 $2,237
    1992 $1,297 $1,164 $150 $369 $1,797 $4,777
    1993 $244 $687 $133 $380 $2,169 $3,613
    1994 $509 $474 $338 $82 $2,591 $3,994
    1995 $546 $845 $226 $579 $3,135 $5,331
    1996 $92 $600 $659 $4 $1,300 $2,655
    1997 $532 $1,300 $242 $1,323 $687 $4,084
    1998 $549 $534 $239 $319 $159 $1,800
    1999 $612 $295 $220 $217 $2,194 $3,538
    2000 $1,501 $634 $151 $230 $815 $3,331
    2001 $807 $451 $47 $1,111 $132 $2,548
    Cumulative Totals: $7,548 $8,923 $3,056 $5,413 $16,281 $41,221
    Table 1. Total dollar value of IRL lane snapper, Lutjanus synagris, between 1987 - 2001.

    VOLUSIA BREVARD INDIAN RIVER ST. LUCIE MARTIN
    YEAR % Total % Total % Total % Total % Total
    1987 43.49% 21.66% 24.59% 8.79% 1.47%
    1988 28.03% 30.84% 26.32% 13.46% 1.35%
    1989 10.02% 65.51% 1.79% 20.46% 2.22%
    1990 11.46% 59.74% 7.49% 13.28% 8.03%
    1991 7.20% 16.76% 8.85% 14.17% 53.02%
    1992 27.15% 24.37% 3.14% 7.72% 37.62%
    1993 6.75% 19.01% 3.68% 10.52% 60.03%
    1994 12.74% 11.87% 8.46% 2.05% 64.87%
    1995 10.24% 15.85% 4.24% 10.86% 58.81%
    1996 3.47% 22.60% 24.82% 0.15% 48.96%
    1997 13.03% 31.83% 5.93% 32.39% 16.82%
    1998 30.50% 29.67% 13.28% 17.72% 8.83%
    1999 17.30% 8.34% 6.22% 6.13% 62.01%
    2000 45.06% 19.03% 4.53% 6.90% 24.47%
    2001 31.67% 17.70% 1.84% 43.60% 5.18%
    Table 2. By-county annual and cumulative percentages of the lane snapper harvest for the years 1987-2001.

    Volusia Brevard Indian River St. Lucie Martin
    Dollars $7,548 $8,923 $3,056 $5,413 $16,281
    % 18.3% 21.6% 7.4% 13.1% 39.5%
    Table 3. By-county cumulative dollar value and percentage of total for the lane snapper harvest from 1987 - 2001.

    Recreational Fishery
    The recreational fishery for lane snapper in Florida far exceeds the commercial fishery in terms of catch. In 2003, for example, recreational anglers harvested 90% of the total lane snapper catch. Recreational anglers landed lane snapper in all coastal areas in Florida, however, landings tend to be greater in southwest Florida, which accounted for 62% of the state-wide landings. Data from Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) show that landings of lane snapper on the Atlantic coast of Florida have been relatively low, but slowly increasing since 1991. On the Gulf coast, landings have peaked and dropped repeated throughout the 1990s. However, landings since 2001 have been relatively stable, averaging approximately 216,000 pounds. In 2003, FWRI reported that lane snapper landings were 14% higher statewide than in the previous 5 years.

    The information below reflects angler survey information taken from the 5-county area that encompasses the Indian River Lagoon. Approximately 640,523 lane snapper were harvested in east central Florida from 1997 - 2001. The bulk of the recreational harvest (41.9%), was taken in waters 3-200 miles offshore. Nearshore waters accounted for 31% of the harvest, with the Indian River Lagoon and other inland waters accounting for only 6% and 21.1% respectively. It is interesting to note a pattern of periodicity in the annual landings data (Figure 3), with a year of high harvest followed by 2 -3 years of lower landings. This pattern is most evident in the offshore landings; however, it appears to be present to a lesser degree in other categories as well.


    Figure 3. Survey data for the lane snapper recreational fishery showing the number of fishes harvested in East Florida waters from 1997 - 2004.

    Figure 4. Summary of the lane snapper recreational harvest and percentage of total by area from 1997 - 2004.

    To 3 Miles To 200 Miles Other Inland IRL TOTAL
    1997 33,470 15,305 35,141 10,265 94,180
    1998 19,197 14,160 19,475 586 53,419
    1999 17,574 22,237 12,236 7,459 59,506
    2000 15,389 69,623 10,171 6,396 101,579
    2001 16,546 32,925 22,529 4,234 76,235
    2002 22,585 29,713 7,543 503 60,344
    2003 60,024 56,206 8,104 8,246 132,579
    2004 13,922 28,478 19,675 606 62,681
    Total: 198,707 268,647 134,874 38,295 640,523
    Table 4. Summary data for recreational fishery in Eastern Florida waters for the lane snapper, Lutjanus synagris, from 1997 - 2004. Data provided by National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics Division, NOAA.


    To 3 Miles To 200 Miles Other Inland IRL
    % Total % Total % Total % Total
    1997 35.5% 16.3% 37.3% 10.9%
    1998 35.9% 26.5% 36.5% 1.1%
    1999 29.5% 37.4% 20.6% 12.5%
    2000 15.1% 68.5% 10.0% 6.3%
    2001 21.7% 43.2% 29.6% 5.6%
    2002 37.4% 49.2% 12.5% 0.8%
    2003 45.3% 42.4% 6.1% 6.2%
    2004 22.2% 45.4% 31.4% 1.0%
    Table 5. By-county annual and cumulative percentages of the lane snapper harvest for the years 1997 - 2001. Data provided by National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics Division, NOAA.


    To 3 Miles To 200 Miles Other Inland IRL
    No. Fish 198,707 268,647 134,874 38,295
    % 31.0% 41.9% 21.1% 6.0%
    Table 6. Summary of the lane snapper recreational harvest and percentage of total fish captured in each area from 1997 - 2004. Data provided by National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics Division, NOAA.
  7. REFERENCES

    Acosta, A. and R.S. Appeldoorn, 1992 Estimation of growth, mortality and yield per recruit for Lutjanus synagris (Linnaeus) in Puerto Rico. Bull. Mar. Sci. 50(2):282-291.

    Aiken, K.A., 2001 Aspects of reproduction, age and growth of the lane snapper, Lutjanus synagris (Linnaeus, 1758) in Jamaican coastal waters. p. 116-134. In: R. LeRoy Creswell (eds.) Proc. 52nd Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, Key West, Florida, November 1999. Fort Pierce, Florida.

    Allen, G. R. 1985. Snappers of the World: An Annotated and Illustrated Cataloque of Lutjanid Species Known to Date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis, no. 125, vol. 6. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy. ISBN/ISSN: 92-5-102321-2.

    Anderson, W. D., Jr. 1967. Field guide to the snappers (Lutjanidae) of the western Atlantic. U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv. Circ. 252.

    Bortone, S.A., and J.L. Williams. 1986. Species profiles: life histories and environmental requirements of coastal fishes and invertebrates (South Florida)- gray, lane, mutton, and yellowtail snappers. U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv. Biol. Rep. 82(11.52). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, TR EL-82-4.

    Duarte, L.O. and C.B. Garcia, 1999 Diet of the lane snapper, Lutjanus synagris (Lutjanidae), in the Gulf of Salamanca, Colombia. Caribb. J. Sci. 35(1/2):54-63.

    Erdman, D.S. 1976. Spawning patterns of fishes from the northeastern Caribbean. Agric. Fish. Contrib. Dep. Agric. (Puerto Rico) 8(2):1-36.

    Franks, J.S. and K.E. VanderKooy, 2000 Feeding habits of juvenile lane snapper Lutjanus synagris from Mississippi coastal waters, with comments on the diet of gray snapper Lutjanus griseus. Gulf Caribb. Res. 12:11-17.

    IGFA, 2001 Database of IGFA angling records until 2001. IGFA, Fort Lauderdale, USA.

    Lindeman, K.C., R. Pugliese, G.T. Waugh and J.S. Ault, 2000 Developmental patterns within a multispecies reef fishery: management applications for essential fish habitats and protected areas. Bull. Mar. Sci. 66(3):929-956.

    Luckhurst, B.E., J.M. Dean and M. Reichert, 2000 Age, growth and reproduction of the lane snapper Lutjanus synagris (Pisces: Lutjanidae) at Bermuda. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 203:255-261.

    Manickchand-Dass, S., 1987 Reproduction, age and growth of the lane snapper, Lutjanus synagris (Linnaeus), in Trinidad West Indies. Bull. Mar. Sci. 40(1):22-28.

    Manooch, C.S., 1987 Age and growth of snappers and groupers. p. 329-373. In J.J. Polovina and S. Ralston (eds.) Tropical snappers and groupers: biology and fisheries management. Ocean Resour. Mar. Policy Ser. Westview Press, Inc., Boulder and London.

    Manooch, C.S., III and D.L. Mason, 1984 Age, growth and mortality of lane snapper from Southern Florida. Northeast Gulf Sci. 7:109-115.

    Rivas, L.R. 1970. Snappers of the Western Atlantic. Commer. Fish. Rev. 32(1):41-44.

    Smith, C.L., 1997. National Audubon Society field guide to tropical marine fishes of the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York. 720 p.

    Springer, V.G., and K.D. Woodburn. 1960. An ecological study of the fishes of the Tampa Bay Area. Fla. Dep. Natl. Resour. Prof. Pap. Ser. No. l:l-104.

    Thompson, M., and J.L. Munro. 1974. The biology, ecology, exploitation and management of Caribbean reef fishes; scientific report of the O.D.S./U.W.I. fisheries. Ecology Research Project 1969-1973. Part V. The biology, ecology and bionomics of Caribbean reef fishes: V.D. Lutjanidae (snappers). Zool. Dep. Univ. West Indies, Jamaica. Res. Rep. 3:1-69.

    Thompson, R. and J.L. Munro, 1983 The biology, ecology and bionomics of Caribbean reef fishes: Lutjanidae (snappers). p. 94-109. In: J.L. Munro (ed.) Caribbean coral reef fishery resources. ICLARM Stud. Rev 7.

    Wicklund, R. 1969. Observations on spawning of lane snapper. Underwater Nat. 6(2):40.

Report by: K. Hill, Smithsonian Marine Station
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