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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
The information below reflects angler survey information taken from the five-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.
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