Managed by: SAFMC
The gray snapper differs from other snapper in that it lacks the distinctive black spot on the sides, and it has a rounded, rather than a pointed, anal fin. It is often confused with the cubera snapper because of body shape and presence of large canine teeth. The pattern of teeth in the gray snapper is anchor-shapped, unlike the triangular shape of the cubera snapper. The body coloration of the gray snapper is highly variable. The lower sides and belly are grayish with a reddish tinge, while the back and upper sides are dark gray to gray-green.
The gray snapper commonly occurs in the westen Atlantic from the northern coast of Florida to Rio de Janeiro. Young fish are sometimes found as north as Massechusetts. The habitat is variable and includes irregular bottom area offshore, such as coral reefs, rock ledges, and wrecks, to a depth of about 300 feet. Inshore the species is found over smooth bottom, usually near pilings, seagrass meadows and mangrove thickets. Spawning usually occurs in the summer at the dusk of a full moon, and in shallow waters. Fish that are 3 years old or older and 9 inches or more take part in the spawning. The lifespan of a gray snapper may be up to 21 years and individuals may reach lengths of 35 inches and weight of 25 pounds. Young gray snappers tend to each shrimp and other crustaceans, while adults prefer fishes, crabs, or shrimps, and may feed on grass flats in the late afternoon or at night.
(For areas three-200 miles off the coasts of NC, SC, GA, and East Florida)