- Although the flesh of the almaco jack is considered quality table fare, the species has been associated with ciguatera poisoning, a seldom fatal stomach irritation.
- The almaco jack is susceptible to tapeworm parasites in the caudal peduncle area, but the meat can be eaten safely if affected portions are cut away.
Cubera snapper (Lutjanus)
The cubera snapper is the largest fish in the snapper family. They have large, stocky bodies that vary in color from gray to dark brown. The body often appears to have a reddish sheen. Some specimens have pale spots on the upper body, which are especially prevalent in the young. They are usually darker above the lateral line with their color fading below.
The cubers two dorsal fins have 14 rays and 10 spines, respectively. The pectoral fins are small, not reaching the anal fin when against the body. The dorsal and pectoral fins have a metallic gray color, while the pectoral fins can appear translucent. The anal fin is rounded with 7 or 8 soft rays and a reddish color. All of the fins can occasionally have a blue tinge.
Cubera snapper have large mouths with thick lips and a projecting lower jaw. Both jaws are very powerful. The teeth of the cubera are in a triangle shape at the top of the mouth. The canines are large enough that they are visible even when the mouth is closed. The dark red eyes of the cubera appear large in relation to the size of the head.
This fish is often confused with the gray snapper. Anglers can distinguish between the two by the anchor shaped tooth teeth on the gray snapper and the triangular shape patch on the cubera.
Cubera snapper are known as aggressive feeders. They are carnivorous, feeding mainly on medium-sized fish and crabs. Their large, strong canine teeth also allow older cubera snapper to eat larger crustaceans such as lobster. Cubera typically feed near the bottom in rocky areas near reefs or other underwater structures.
Found in the western Atlantic from Florida to the Amazon Basin in Brazil, cubera snapper are most common between the Florida Keys and Cuba. The cubera has been seen as far north as New Jersey and Nova Scotia. Overall, they are considered scarce within their entire range.
Cubera snapper are found away from the shore at depths of several hundred feet. Like most snappers, cubera are usually found near underwater objects like shipwrecks, reefs and oilrigs. They also prefer to be near steep ledges and rocky bottoms. The cubera is a solitary fish avoiding the snapper schools that also live around reefs. Young cubera snapper can be found in shallower water close to the shoreline in grass beds or mangrove areas.
- While cubera snapper meat is considered a delicacy, the meat of the larger fish is too rough to eat.
- Conservationists are attempting to prohibit fishing for cubera while they spawn off the coast of Florida. This is considered to be the main cause of overfishing for the cubera.
- Eating the cubera fish has been associated with ciguatera poisoning, a seldom fatal digestive disorder.