Wildlife Fact Sheets

Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper

Red Snapper

Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper

Lutjanus campechanus

  • Life Span
    Over 50 years
  • Habitat
    I like places where I can find shelter, like reefs, rocks, ledges and wrecks. As I get older I venture out on the open bottom more often.
  • Range
    U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico
  • Preferred Food
    I will eat pretty much anything smaller than I am, including fish, crustaceans, octopi and squid.


Not to brag, but I’m one of the most economically valuable fish in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2011, commercial fishermen from Gulf states landed more than 3.2 million pounds of us, which sold on the dock for $11.5 million. We’re a favorite of recreational fishermen too—that same year, 3.1 million recreational anglers took more than 22 million fishing trips in the Gulf of Mexico targeting us and other fish species. These trips are a major part of the local economy.

Being a popular fish can have its downsides. We went through some tough times in the 1980s when our populations hit a low due to extreme overfishing. Thankfully, smart, science-based fishery management helped put us on the road to recovery. Although our numbers are getting better, we’re not out of the woods yet—management is still a hot topic of discussion.

Did You Know?

We older, larger snapper produce way more eggs than those youngsters. One 24-inch female (about eight years old) produces as many fish as 212 17-inch females (about five years old). Most of us caught in the Gulf today are only between four and six years old.

Status and Conservation

We start reproducing around two years old, and prefer the warm months from May-October to spawn. During that time we can spawn about every four to six days, about 20 times in a year! We typically spawn at night, then our eggs float to the surface and hatch within a day. Our young will float around in the currents for about a month before they swim down in the water column.

Fast Facts


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