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


Mutton snapper swimming in a sandy hard-botom area. Photo courtesy of V.O. Skinner, California State University Long Beach.

Species Name: Lutjanus analis Cuvier, 1828
Common Name: Mutton snapper
Mutton fish
King snapper
Synonymy: Mesoprion analis
Cuvier in Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1828
  1. TAXONOMY

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

    Other Taxonomic Groupings

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

    Species Description

    Lutjanus analis is a deep-bodied and compressed snapper that may reach lengths of 30 - 77 cm (1 - 2.5 feet). It is common in inland and nearshore waters to approximately 6.8 kg (15 pounds). The dorsal fin is continuous with 9 - 11 (usually 10) slender dorsal spines, the fourth of which is the longest. The angulate soft dorsal fin has 13-14 rays. The caudal fin is deeply emarginate. The anal fin is pointed and has 3 spines, the second and third equal in length, and 8 anal rays. The pectoral fins are long, reaching past the anus. Scales are small and ctenoid, with 47-51 lateral lines scales. There are 12-13 gill rakers on the lower limb of the gill arch. The head profile is steep and straight to the tip of the snout. The eyes are small. The mouth is large and terminal, with the maxilla just reaching the front of the orbit. The upper and lower jaws, as well as the vomer have bands of villiform teeth. In addition, the upper jaw has 6 canine teeth, 4 of which are enlarged. The preopercule is coarsely serrated along its entire edge, and is shallowly notched at the angle. Body color is variable depending upon the activity of the fish. Adults are olive green dorsally, becoming paler laterally and ventrally. The ventral surface is reddish, as are all of the fins. The margin of the caudal fin is black. The snout bears an irregular blue line that reaches the posterior of the eye. A second blue line runs from the maxilla to the eye. A prominent black spot lies above the lateral line below the soft portion of the dorsal fin. When not active, the mutton snapper may evhibit a series of 10-12 dark vertical bars that run the length of the body.

    Potentially Misidentified Species

    Lutjanus analis is similar to a related species, the lane snapper, L. synagris. The two are differentiated based on the shape of the anal fin: in L. analis the anal fin is pointed, while in L. synagris, it is rounded.

  2. HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION

    Regional Occurrence

    In the Western Atlantic, ranges from approximately Massachusetts south to Brazil including Bermuda, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. It is most abundant off south Florida, the Bahamas, and the Antilles (Allen 1985).

    IRL Distribution

    Lutjanus analis is common throughout the Indian River Lagoon in seagrass beds, mangrove creeks and canals. Larger fishes and mature adults are generally found in offshore waters.

  3. LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY

    Age, Size, Lifespan

    Mutton snapper grow to a maximum reported size of 94.0 cm (37 inches) total length (TL) (IGFA 2001) and may weigh as much as 15.6 kg (34.4 pounds). They live as long as 29 years (Bortone and Williams 1986).

    Reproduction

    As with most snappers, Lutjanus analis spawns offshore in groups (Wicklund 1969; Thompson and Munro 1974). It matures at approximately 40 - 50 cm (15.7 - 19.6 inches) (Allen 1985). Spawning typically occurs in July and August.

    Rojas (1960) estimated fecundity in a 512 mm (20.2 inches) fork length (FL) mutton snapper as 1.4 million eggs.

    Embryology

    Like many snapper species, eggs are pelagic (Bortone and Williams 1986) and hatch after approximately 20 hours.

  4. PHYSICAL TOLERANCES

    Temperature

    Rivas (1970) sampled Lutjanus analis from waters where temperatures ranged from 18.9 - 27.8°C (66.0 - 82.4°F), with a mean water temperature of 24.8°C (76.6°F).

  5. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY

    Trophic Mode

    Most snappers are classified as euryphagic carnivores (Bortone and Williams 1986). In the Caribbean (Randall 1967), crabs made up 44% of the diet, fish (29%), gastropods (13%), with the remainder consisting of octopods, hermit crabs and shrimp (Randall 1967; Allen 1985).

    Predators

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

    Habitats

    Lutjanus analis adults are typically found at depths of 40 - 59 m (140 - 194 feet) depths (Rivas 1970) where they often form small schools during daylight hours, but disband at night (Allen 1985). Juveniles are most common in inshore waterways (Springer and McErlean 1962) where the substrate consists of sand, seagrasses, or coral rubble (Bortone and Williams 1986). Adults tend to remain in an area once they have become established (Beaumariage 1969; Bortone and Williams 1986) and are most common in the open waters of shelf areas and around islands. Larger adults inhabit coral reefs and rocky, hard bottom areas.

    Activity Time

    Lutjanus analis is active diurnally and nocturnally (Allen 1985; Bortone and Williams 1986).

  6. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    Fisheries Importance

    COMMERCIAL FISHERY

    The commercial fishery for mutton snapper is not of particularly high value in east central Florida, averaging less than $11,000 per year. The statewide commercial catch of gray snapper, Lutjanus analis, between the years 1987 - 2001 was 5.5 million pounds, with a dollar value of over $9.6 million. Within this time period however, only 92,189 pounds of mutton snapper was 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 $163,205 reported. This ranks the mutton snapper sixty-fourth in commercial value within the IRL, and seventy-fifth in pounds harvested.

    Figure 1 below shows the dollar value of the commercial mutton snapper fishery to IRL counties by year. As shown, the commercial catch ranged from a low of $5,647 in 1989 to a high of over $22,251 the next year, 1990. Volusia County accounts for the largest percentage of the gray snapper catch with 37.3% in total (Figure 2), most of which was accounted for by the large catch in 1990. Martin County follows with 23% of the harvest, followed by St. Lucie, Brevard and Indian River Counties, which account for 19.5%, 13.7% and 6.5% of the total respectively. Of note are 2 particularly good harvests in Volusia County occurring in 1990 and 1998 which account for 65% and 61% of the annual catch respectively.


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


    Figure 2. Total mutton 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 $3,332 $731 $70 $1,634 $1,415 $7,182
    1988 $1,329 $315 $16 $1,884 $4,516 $8,060
    1989 $1,184 $1,206 $288 $2,435 $534 $5,647
    1990 $14,772 $1,537 $1,487 $903 $3,852 $22,551
    1991 $2,122 $1,100 $421 $1,719 $1,092 $6,454
    1992 $1,605 $1,057 $791 $2,711 $1,439 $7,603
    1993 $1,534 $2,850 $324 $2,462 $1,976 $9,146
    1994 $2,703 $5,023 $1,710 $3,757 $1,183 $14,376
    1995 $8,776 $773 $1,567 $1,366 $2,589 $15,071
    1996 $1,634 $905 $1,505 $597 $4,373 $9,014
    1997 $2,757 $1,841 $158 $531 $1,770 $7,057
    1998 $11,580 $3,335 $878 $713 $2,468 $18,974
    1999 $3,601 $937 $366 $315 $3,179 $8,398
    2000 $2,588 $396 $415 $4,896 $4,241 $12,536
    2001 $1,363 $323 $584 $5,976 $2,890 $11,136
    Cumulative Totals: $60,880 $22,329 $10,580 $31,899 $37,517 $163,205
    Table 1. Total dollar value of IRL mutton snapper, Lutjanus analis, between 1987 - 2001.


      VOLUSIA BREVARD INDIAN RIVER ST. LUCIE MARTIN
    Year % Total % Total % Total % Total % Total
    1987 46.39% 10.18% 0.97% 22.75% 19.70%
    1988 16.49% 3.91% 0.20% 23.37% 56.03%
    1989 20.97% 21.36% 5.10% 43.12% 9.46%
    1990 65.50% 6.82% 6.59% 4.00% 17.08%
    1991 32.88% 17.04% 6.52% 26.63% 16.92%
    1992 21.11% 13.90% 10.40% 35.66% 18.93%
    1993 16.77% 31.16% 3.54% 26.92% 21.61%
    1994 18.80% 34.94% 11.89% 26.13% 8.23%
    1995 58.23% 5.13% 10.40% 9.06% 17.18%
    1996 18.13% 10.04% 16.70% 6.62% 48.51%
    1997 39.07% 26.09% 2.24% 7.52% 25.08%
    1998 61.03% 17.58% 4.63% 3.76% 13.01%
    1999 42.88% 11.16% 4.36% 3.75% 37.85%
    2000 20.64% 3.16% 3.31% 39.06% 33.83%
    2001 12.24% 2.90% 5.24% 53.66% 25.95%
    Table 2. By-county annual and cumulative percentages of the mutton snapper harvest for the years 1987-2001.


    Volusia Brevard Indian River  St. Lucie Martin
    Dollars $60,880 $22,329 $10,580 $31,899 $37,517
    % 37.3% 13.7% 6.5% 19.5% 23.0%
    Table 3. By-county cumulative dollar value and percentage of total for the mutton snapper harvest from 1987 - 2001.


    RECREATIONAL FISHERY

    The information below reflects angler survey information taken from the 5-county area that encompasses the Indian River Lagoon. Approximately 460,226 mutton snapper were harvested in east central Florida from 1997 - 2001. The bulk of the recreational harvest was taken in nearshore waters to 3 miles (43.9%) and in offshore waters to 200 miles (40.0%). Inland waters other than the Indian River Lagoon, and the IRL itself account for only 8.5% and 7.6% respectively.


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


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


    To 3 Miles To 200 Miles Other Inland IRL TOTAL
    1997 9,242 13,208 6,137 2,125 30,711
    1998 13,067 13,260 13,238 11,831 51,396
    1999 11,689 10,036 2,462 9,869 34,056
    2000 23,444 34,686 859 1,469 60,458
    2001 24,409 25,857 3,298 3,699 57,263
    2002 45,758 31,720 3,269 1,820 82,568
    2003 40,001 29,022 1,227 2,186 72,436
    2004 34,230 26,267 8,771 2,071 71,338
    Total: 201,840 184,056 39,261 35,070 460,226
    Table 4. Summary data for recreational fishery in Eastern Florida waters for the mutton snapper, Lutjanus analis, from 1997 - 2004. Data provided by National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics Division, NOAA.

    To 3 To 200 Miles Other Inland IRL
      % Total % Total % Total % Total
    1997 30.1% 43.0% 20.0% 6.9%
    1998 25.4% 25.8% 25.8% 23.0%
    1999 34.3% 29.5% 7.2% 29.0%
    2000 38.8% 57.4% 1.4% 2.4%
    2001 42.6% 45.2% 5.8% 6.5%
    2002 55.4% 38.4% 4.0% 2.2%
    2003 55.2% 40.1% 1.7% 3.0%
    2004 48.0% 36.8% 12.3% 2.9%
    Table 5. By-county annual and cumulative percentages of the mutton 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 201,840 184,056 39,261 35,070
    % 43.86% 39.99% 8.53% 7.62%
    Table 6. Summary of the mutton 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

    Allen, G. R. 1985. Snappers of the World: An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue 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.

    Beaumariage, D.S. 1969. Returns from the 1965 Schlitz tagging program including a cumulative analysis of previous results. Fla. Dep. Nat. Resour. Tech. Ser. No. 59:1-38.

    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.

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

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

    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.

    Mason, D.L. and C.S. Manooch, III, 1985 Age and growth of mutton snapper along the east coast of Florida. Fish. Res. 3:93-104.

    Randall, J.E., 1968 Caribbean reef fishes. T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Ltd., Hong Kong. 318 p.

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

    Rojas, L.E. 1960. Estudios estadisticos y biologicos sobre pargo criollo, Lutjanus analis. Cent. Invest. Pesq. Cuba.Nota 2:1-16.

    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 A.J. McErlean.1962. Seasonality of fishes on a south Florida shore. Bull. Mar. Sci. 12(l): 39-60.

    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, Kingston, 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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Page last updated: July 26, 2005

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