Critter Season Calendar

Spiny Lobster:  “mini” season runs July 25-26, 2012.  It begins at 12:01 am on Wednesday and ends at 12:00 midnight on Thursday. The regular 8 month season is August 6, 2012 through March 31, 2013, but the summer months are when everyone gets serious about “bug hunting.”
Blue CrabSept. 20–Oct. 4
Gulf state waters beyond 3 miles closed to traps; federal waters closed to traps; Regional trap closures apply.
10 gallons whole
per harvester per day
5 traps maximum. Trap requirements apply. Harvest of egg-bearing crabs prohibited.
Stone Crabmust have 2 3/4” claw, season is May 16–Oct. 14
1 gal. Stone Crab claws per harvester or 2 gal. per vessel, whichever is less
5 traps maximum. Trap requirements apply. Illegal to possess whole crab. Harvest of egg-bearing crabs prohibited.

Black Grouper: The species in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea form spawning aggregations in winter (December to March).
Cubera Snapper: aggregates to spawn from May to September in the waters of the Caribbean during full-moon. In Belize, it aggregates during March to September within a confined area and consistent time (near sunset). During peak season and during the full moon from April to July between 4000 and 10000 fish aggregate to spawn. The aggregations normally take place on outer reef slopes, reef promontories and sandy drop-off areas of the shelf edge. In Puerto Rico, cubera snapper spawn on deep reefs (35-40m). The snapper has also been seen to aggregate to spawn on artificial habitat in the United States. During spawning, hundreds to thousands of individuals may aggregate over deep areas. The eggs hatch within a day of fertilization, producing pelagic larvae that are dispersed by the currents. Whale sharks feed on freshly released cubera snapper spawn in waters off Belize in Central America. The cubera snapper is also known to spawn with other snapper species like dog snapper and gray snapper.

Red Hind Snapper:Red hinds form aggregations and reproduce almost exclusively within the aggregation period which occurs from December to April in the Caribbean, and from May to July in Bermuda.
The females spawn more than once during the course of the several months long annual spawning season. Spawning aggregations typically occur on the top of deep coral reef ridges located on or near the shelf edge, 1 to 2 m above the reef. In Jamaica, Puerto Rico and USVI, the aggregations form at the week before full moon from December to February. Spawning typically peaks in January and aggregations completely disperse following the January or February full moon. In Bermuda, the species aggregate to spawn also at full moon but the months differ from elsewhere; May, June and July.

Nassau Grouper: Spawning aggregations of a few dozen to perhaps as many as 100,000 individuals have been reported from the Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Belize, the Virgin Islands and elsewhere in the Caribbean.
These aggregations occur in depths of 20 to 40 m at specific locations of the outer reef shelf edge in December, January and/or February at or near the time of the full moon; the same sites are used year after year.
During spawning, most fish (males and females) display the bicoloured (non-aggressive) pattern and hover above the bottom. Some females remain in the barred pattern, becoming very dark as mating approaches and are closely followed by bicoloured fish during courtship.
Spawning occurs at sunset, in groups of 3 to 25 fish. Release of gametes is preceded by various movements of the courting groups: vertical spirals, short vertical runs followed by rapidly crowding together then rapidly dispersing and horizontal runs near the bottom. Mating is initiated by a dark phase fish (presumed female) dashing forward and upward, the female is closely followed by groups of bicoloured males releasing a white cloud of sperm as the female(s) release her eggs.

Mutton Snapper: As with most larger snappers, this creature spawns offshore in groups that spawning typically in summer. The snapper is a solitary species, and rarely seen in groups outside of the spawning season. They form large, transient aggregations in which spawning may last for several weeks in a month for several months each year. Spawning aggregations occur from April to September, at outer reef slopes, and on reef promontories and drop-offs. Mutton snapper exhibit high site-fidelity, spawning at the same site and on the same lunar calendar days (during full moon or in the third lunar quarter), year after year. The snapper is oviparous, releasing pelagic eggs that move freely with the water currents. As is typical of pelagic spawners, the number of eggs is dependent upon the size of the female, with larger fish containing more eggs. After spawning, the adult fish moves offshore to deeper waters

Coral Spawning: This is high on my list to see this year. I just missed it last year! No one really understands what factors contribute to triggering a spawning event or how corals synchronize to spawn all at the same time. Moon phase is undoubtedly an important influence because spawning events can be effectively predicted from closely observing the various phases of the moon. It will generally happens about eight days after August’s full moon.

    For 2012 the full moon is set for Aug 31st and anticipated spawning in Caymans is Sept 5-7th. In Bonaire, which is an excellent place to witness coral spawning due to the proximity of the reefs from the shore, and abundance of coral species, spawning takes place in September and/or October. In the Caribbean, coral spawning occurs usually in the first week of August.

The generally accepted schedule is for branching corals like finger, staghorn and elkhorn corals in the Keys to spawn is three to five days after the full moon, about two hours after sunset. Star and boulder corals spawn six to eight days after the August full moon, about three hours after sunset.

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