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Sea of Cortez 810

Family Lutjanidae
Snappers and Pargos
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned)
Order: Perciformes

Key Features:
Resembles perch, groupers and grunts.  Single dorsal fin is continuous or slightly notched.  Terminal mouth with canine teeth.  When mouth is closed, maxilla is covered by preorbital.  3 spines in anal fin.  Caudal fin is mildly forked.     

Notable Species in the Sea of Cortez

Holopargus guentherii
Barred Pargo
Lutjanus argentiventris
Yellow Snapper
Lutjanus novemfasciatus
Pacific Dog Snapper
Lutjanus guttatus
Spotted Rose Snapper
Lutjanus aratus
Mullet Snapper
Lutjanus viridis
Blue-and-Gold Snapper

Lutjanus viridis seen scuba diving at isla las animas baja, Mexico in the Sea of Cortez

Lutjanus viridis
Blue-and-Gold Snapper

Isla las Animas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Family Lutjanidae
Snappers (Pargos)

 A prized target for sports fishermen, the snappers are a broadly distributed family worldwide, and are generalized predators, allowing them to exist successfully in a diverse range of habitats.  Morphologically similar to groupers and grunts, they are characterized by the presence of strong jaws with canine teeth and a subopercular maxilla.  Most species do not reach the size of many of the larger groupers.  They are a sought after food species owing to their white, non-oily flesh. 

Many species within the Sea of Cortez exist in broad aggregations and schools.  Along large rocky outcroppings and shipwrecks, the Barred Pargo, Hoplopagrus guentherii, one of the largest snappers of the Gulf, will often be found lurking in the recesses.  In the southern Gulf, Blue-and-Gold Snappers, Lutjanus viridis, cruise the rock-sand interfaces of reefs between thirty and ninety feet.  These schools are often associated with goatfish, the snapper appear to hover around these fishes waiting to chase down prey that is scared out of the sand by the probing of the goatfishes barbels.  Then feeding masses can assume massive proportions and are a favorite show for scuba divers. The yellowtail snapper, Lutjanus argentiventris,  is the most widely distributed throughout the Gulf and undergoes a significant morphological change from juvenile to adult. 



Updated August 28, 2009

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