Snapper | Maori name tāmure
These fish have large mouths and sharp canine teeth, hence the name Snapper! They make for great eating with their soft white meat with very few bones. Snapper are usually a reddish brown on top and a silvery white on the bottom but depending on where they live the colour changes slightly. They are easily recognized by the spiky long pectoral and dorsal fin. Pale brown snapper are found in deep muddy waters and the dark brown snapper are found close inshore or on reefs. Young snapper have silvery blue dots on their body and as they get older the spots fade away. Snapper live mostly in waters ranging from 5 to 50 meters but are often seen in waters that are 200 meters deep. Snapper like to stay close to reefs or weed to enable them to dart for shelter if attacked by a predator.
Snapper are known to live to about 60 years and could grow to about 17 kgs or about 105 cms. From birth they take about 3 to 5 years to reach about 25 to 30 cms where they become sexually mature. They spawn from October to February when the water temperature is right and usually come back to the same breeding grounds each year.
Feeding & Breeding
Snapper are carnivorous fish and feed on sea worms and small crustaceans found in the ocean. Big snapper eat fish and larger, harder-bodied animals such as sea eggs (kina), crabs and shellfish. Snapper are known for their adaptability and if one prey gets scarce they can alter their eating habits to a different food. Snapper like warm temperature for better spawning success and the survival of its eggs and young. It takes 4 to 5 years for snapper to grow from the larvae stage to about 27 to 30 cms or adulthood.
Snapper spawn over several weeks and stages when the water temperature is warm enough (usually above 18 degrees centigrade). The eggs hatch in a couple of days, where at this stage the mortality rate is very high. Juvenile snapper have a very high mortality rate and as the fish get bigger their survival rate increases. Snapper spawn several times over the period. Female snapper wiggle to the surface releasing the eggs and the male simultaneously releasing sperm to form the bond. All snapper are born female, until they attain the age of puberty where nature dictates and changes some to males. During year 3 and 4 of their lives about half of them undergo a sex change which is called a hermaphroditic stage, to become males.
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