Snapper: Yellowtail

Other Common Names:

Yellowfin Snapper, Palu-i'usama, (Ocyurus chrysurus) The species name is derived from the Greek "chryso" which is translated as golden. The scientific name of the yellowtail snapper roughly translates to "swift-swimming golden fish".




year round

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Range & Habitat: The yellowtail snapper is found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Bermuda and southward to southeastern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. It is most common in the Bahamas, off south Florida and in the Caribbean Sea. Adult yellowtail snappers live over sandy areas near deep reefs at depths of 32-230 feet (10-70m), while small adults tend to congregate over hard bottom habitats. Once established, adult yellowtail snapper tend to remain in the same area for long periods of time. This snapper is usually seen well above the substrate, swimming about in small groups. It spawns in midsummer; and rarely exceeds 30 inches or 5 pounds in size. Juveniles reside inshore in seagrass bed nursery areas that offer protection from predation while they mature.

Flavor Profile: small flake, firm flesh, delicate light flavor

Identification & Biology: back and upper sides olive to bluish with yellow spots; lower sides and belly with alternating narrow, longitudinal pink and yellow stripes; prominent midlateral yellow stripe begins at mouth and runs to tail, broadening as it passes the dorsal fins; caudal fin yellow and deeply forked; no dark lateral spot. Adult yellowtail snappers are nocturnal predators. They feed on benthic organisms including crabs, shrimp, cephalopods, worms, and fish. Juveniles, living primarily among seagrasses, feed on plankton.

Market Description: This snapper is a popular game and food fish, composing a major portion of both the sport and commercial catches of Florida’s snapper fishery. This species is also the focus of a number of commercial aquaculture operations. It is a lean fish with a firm texture, white meat and a mild flavor. It is marketed as both fresh and frozen.

A Florida Keys favorite, Yellowtail Snappers are probably the most requested Snapper in the local seafood restaurants. If you have ever visited the Keys, you are probably familiar with this seafood species. Their color and beauty make them the most popular fish among seafood consumers.

Recommended Preparation: marinated then grilled

Fishing Technique: long line, hook&line