- 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.
Gray snapper (Lutjanus)
Gray snapper are long, slender fish with high-backed bodies that vary in color. They can be dark green, dark gray or dark brown. Gray snapper are gray on the bottom with a hint of red. Some specimens, particularly the young, have a dark stripe that runs from the eye down the side of the fish. Unlike many snapper, gray snapper do not have dark spots on the sides. The anal fin is short, not reaching the anal opening. It has three spines, seven or eight soft rays and appears darker around the edges. The dorsal fin has 10 spines and 13 or 14 soft rays and is dark red in color.
Gray snapper have long, pointed, v-shaped heads with large snouts. There are two large canine teeth in the upper jaw. Gray snapper are distinguished from the cubera snapper by the anchor-shaped patch of teeth in their mouths. The teeth are larger on the roof of the mouth than on the bottom, but all of the teeth are very sharp.
Gray snapper are opportunistic carnivores. While young specimens feed on plankton and shrimp, as they grow, they prefer small fish and crabs living near the bottom. They feed mostly at night, moving away from the reefs they inhabit during the day to feed in grass beds. This movement occurs at dusk.
Gray snapper are found throughout the Atlantic Ocean including Florida, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. In the western Atlantic they range from Massachusetts in the north to Brazil in the south, but are seldom seen north of Florida. In the eastern Atlantic gray snapper are found off the coast of Africa between Senegal and the Congo. They are most abundant off the coast of Florida and throughout the western portion of the Gulf of Mexico.
Young gray snapper are typically found close to the shore. They prefer smooth, shallow surfaces like grass beds, tidal creeks and estuaries. Some young gray snapper have been found in fresh water. As gray snappers grow they move farther away from the shore. More mature snappers are found at various depths between 20 and 300 feet near underwater structures such as reefs, shipwrecks and rock ledges. They congregate in schools, often drifting with other species of snapper, pinfish and pigfish.
- Gray snapper are fished for commercially and sold fresh and frozen. Their white meat can be pan-fried, filleted or baked.
- Gray snapper are often raised in captivity and can be found in many show aquariums.
- Eating gray snapper has been associated with ciguatera poisoning, a seldom fatal digestive disorder.