Blue-and-Gold Snapper

Blue-and-Gold Snapper, Lutjanus viridis

The Blue-and-Gold Snapper, Lutjanus viridis, whose common Spanish name is pargo azul-dorado and whose local name is pargo, is the smallest member of the Snapper or Lutjanidae Family, known collectively as pargos in Mexico. Globally, there are sixty seven species in the genus Lutjanus, nineteen of which are found in Mexican waters, ten in the Atlantic and nine in the Pacific.

The Blue-and-Gold Snappers have oblong bodies that are bright yellow and have five black-edged bluish-white horizontal stripes on their sides. They have a pointed snout and a large mouth. The scale rows above their lateral line are oblique and they have a deep notch on the lower edge of their cheeks. Their anal fin is rounded with three spines, the second being long and thick, and eight rays; their caudal fin is straight; and their dorsal fin is continuous with ten spines.

The Blue-and-Gold Snappers are found in diurnal aggregations over rocky bottoms and coral reefs at depths up to 180 feet. They reach a maximum length of 30 cm (12 inches). They are nocturnal predators feeding on crabs, mollusks, octopus, shrimp, and small fish and take shelter during daylight.

In Mexican waters the Blue-and-Gold Snapper have a limited distribution being found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja, from Loreto southward along the southeast coast of Baja, and from Acapulco southward to Guatemala along the west coast of the mainland.

The Blue-and-Gold Snapper is an easy fish to identify but is similar in appearance to the Panamic Porkfish, Anisotremus taeniatus (wider body profile; two large dark vertical bars across head).

The Blue-and-Gold Snappers are too rare and too small to be of interest to most. They are either a catch-and-release or used occasionally by local pangueros as live bait sent down deep in quest of large grouper. In the greater San José area I am aware of two colonies both in 50 to 75-foot water very close to the beach, the first about ten miles north of Puerto Los Cabos and the second off Palmilla Point. They are not abundant and virtually disappear for long periods of time.

Blue-and-Gold Snapper, Lutjanus viridis. Fish caught from shore at Los Barriles, Baja California Sur, December 2018. Length: 23.1 cm (9.1 inches). Catch courtesy of Mike Rousseau, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. Photo courtesy of Brad Murakami, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. 

Blue-and-Gold Snapper, Lutjanus viridis. Fish caught from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, April 2012. Length: 25 cm (10 inches).

Blue-and-Gold Snapper, Lutjanus viridis. Fish caught from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, August 2014. Length: 25 cm (10 inches).