Snappers (Pargo)

Snapper (pargo) in Costa Rica

Snapper, Montezuma

The snapper, known as “Pargo” in Costa Rica, is a common fish, found on both coasts and in all the areas where people would likely scuba dive.

The Snapper gets its name from the large canine teeth, set in its upper jaws. These prominent teeth are visible even when the jaws are shut, much like the certain dogs. The Dog Snapper feeds on other bottom-dwelling creatures found at the ocean floor like shrimp, crabs etc.

For most of the year the Dog Snappers live on their own, instead of in large shoals as is common in other marine creatures of similar size and nature. This however changes around March when mating season comes along. Then they all gather in groups to reproduce at spawning sites in the north-eastern Caribbean and the near the islands of Tortuga. They sometimes travel very large distances to get to these spawning sites. One of the mysteries of Marine Biology is how these fish choose these mating sites and manage to find them when mating season comes along. At the mating sites the Snapper mingle en masse to release sperm and eggs. After this the eggs and the hatched larvae from them are left on their own to tend for themselves. Many of them are devoured by other marine life. A sizeable number still manages to survive and can be found swimming close to shore.

Despite its formidable appearance and tough name, the Snapper isn’t that high in the marine food chain. Adults regularly fall prey to larger hunters like sharks and groupers. The eggs and larvae, as mentioned earlier, fall victim to all manner of marine creatures. In addition to marine creatures, Snappers form a very desirable meal for humans, though they require some cautious handling. There have been instances of milk poisonings from consumption of dog snapper. This isn’t exactly poison, but ciguatera toxin that is required for the dog snapper to climb up the marine food chain.

There are many varieties of snappers such as the “dog snapper” and “mahogany snapper” found in Costa Rica. These usually prefer to stay near the shore or just offshore in clear, shallow warm over rocky bottoms and coral reefs. They also like sandy areas and sea-grass beds. Although they are all snappers, they may prefer different living conditions such as different depths or terrain. The average Mahogany Snapper is about 15 inches in length and can weigh up to 3 pounds.

Much like the Dog Snapper, the Mahogany Snappers also prefer to drift alone or in small groups in crevices and caves in the hard coral, in the months of May, June and July commonly in the north-Eastern Caribbean Sea. After fertilization eggs usually hatch within a day. Mahogany Snapper larvae usually stick to shallow waters and head out into deeper reefs as they get older. Mahogany Snappers often end up as victims to large predatory fish like sharks, since like humans, sharks know that the entire snapper fish family is very tasty.

Video of Snapper Fishing in Costa Rica


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