From May to August lunar cycles prompt throngs of Cubera snappers to come together en masse at shallow offshore spawning sites, the outer reef slopes and sandy drop-offs found around the Caribbean.
At these select spots, teeming masses of up to 10,000 snappers may gather. Females release their eggs into the sea, where they produce larvae within a day—and provide a subsequent feast for any nearby whale sharks.
Young snappers seek protection among inshore sea grass beds or mangroves and have even been known to enter freshwater. Those fish that survive to adulthood prefer to move offshore to suitable rocky ledge and reef habitats in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic.
Predators and Prey
These biggest of all snapper species feast on fish, shrimp, and crabs and are easily able to tackle even tougher fare because of large strong teeth. Some prominent choppers are visible even when the fish’s mouth is closed.
Cubera snappers are certainly able to hold their own but these predators do become prey for larger animals, including sharks, moray eels, and barracuda.
Humans are another, perhaps more formidable threat. The fish are targeted by fishermen and provide a particularly easy mark during spawning aggregations because they are found in numbers at predictable places and times. Protection of these sites is considered essential, so that a time-honored reproductive process can continue to replenish populations with each succeeding generation.