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170. Blackfin Snapper (Lutjanus buccanella)


The Blackfin Snapper is a favourite species among underwater videographers due to its beauty and colours. Although this snapper has bright yellow fins, its common name is Blackfin Snapper (Lutjanus buccanella), but the fish owes its name to the dark comma at the base of the pectoral fins. The Blackfin Snapper is found in the tropical waters of the West Atlantic Ocean, from the entire East coast of the United States south to Brazil and in the whole Caribbean, including the Gulf of Mexico. The great diversity of cultures in this area means that this fish has many different names in this part of the Americas: cala di hundu or cala pretu in Papiamento, chillo oreja negra and pargo sesi or sesi de lo alto in Spanish, vivaneau oreille noire in French, and zorèy nwè in Antillean Creole.

Adults of this common Caribbean fish species are usually 50cm/20inch but can sometimes grow up to 75cm/30inch and usually occur at depths greater than 60m/200ft. Juveniles and sub-adults prefer to take shelter in or near rocky outcroppings close to reefs in shallow waters 6 to 18m/20-60ft where there are probably fewer predators and more food available. The Blackfin Snapper is often solitary but can aggregate in small schools of 20 to 30 individuals or so.

The Blackfin Snapper is an opportunistic carnivorous predator. As adults, they target smaller fish near the seabed, while juveniles prefer a diet of worms and small crustaceans like shrimps. Besides humans, who commonly catch and sell this fish on traditional local markets, bigger species of fish prey on these snappers. Sharks, barracudas, moray eels, and big groupers all hunt the Blackfin Snapper.

These snappers are often associated with ciguatera toxin, which is a poison produced by dinoflagellates, single-celled organisms that live in the seawater.

The Blackfin Snapper reproduces by broadcast spawning. This snapper is known to spawn most of the year, with a peak in April and September. This mainly happens off the coast of Jamaica, and the eggs are planktonic (at the mercy of the currents).

The specimen in this clip was filmed on the reefs of Saba in the Dutch West Indies (Netherlands Antilles).


This shot was taken underneath an overhang where less sunlight is present and required the use of video lights to bring out the warm and pleasant colours of this Caribbean fish species. This fish was spotted in relatively shallow water (15m/45ft), which might suggest that this individual is probably a sub-adult as adults tend to prefer deeper water. The blend of pink with a touch of orange of the fish’s body and yellow of its fins in this underwater video clip has been saturated to highlight the beautiful colours of this fish.

The pretty individual in this clip was not shy or wary at all and was very easy to film. Underwater videography enables us to observe and capture the beauty of marine life, such as the Blackfin Snapper, a common Caribbean fish species and popular amongst underwater videographers and photographers alike that displays a striking blend of warm and soft colours.

Filming location:

This short underwater videoclip has been filmed in Saba, Netherland Antilles 🇳🇱

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