23 Octobre 2012
The Paddletail snapper (Lutjanus gibbus), also referred to as Taea in Maori language is a colorful fish present in French Polynesia. This species is a part of the Lutjanidae family. Its color goes from grey to the pink with yellow marks on its head, the operculum and the pectoral fins. Its fins are dark red with a little white line that marks their boundary. During its juvenile age, the snapper has a blue grey color that is less flashy than adult’s colors. It owns a forked tail with two rounded lobes. Its concave muzzle gives him a strange face, as if he wanted to kiss another fish. The paddletail snapper can measure 1,6 ft in maximum.
Juvenile snappers are solitary and forage around seagrass beds where they feed on plankton. When they reach maturity, they eventually live in schools near the coasts and reefs. It can live in deeper water of up to 490 ft. The Paddletail snapper is a carnivorous fish that live in shoals of hundreds of individuals. It feeds on smaller fish and crustaceans in spite of its lack of teeth. The snappers are mainly night hunters staying stationary during the day.
During the mating season, between December to January, we assist to an impressive gathering of paddletail snappers in passes of atolls. The females unleash their eggs while the males fertilize them. This concentration of fish is often followed by a huge presence of sharks that that take advantage of the situation to satisfy their hunger. All this sequence of events is marked by the movements of predators and current.
The paddletail snapper can also be observed around the world in the Indian Ocean and in the Red Sea. In French Polynesia, this fish represents an important risk of ciguatera intoxication (Food poisoning from eating toxic fish), it is the reason why it is fished in very low quantity by Polynesians. This species is particularly abundant in the Tuamotu Archipelago. You could encounter this colorful species in the Garuae pass in Fakarava, the widest pass in French Polynesia.