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The Great Red Snapper Count: Project Results

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Publication Number: P3602
View as PDF: P3602.pdf

The Great Red Snapper Count project team estimated a population size of 118 million red snapper in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico!

In comparison, the most recent NOAA assessment estimated a biomass that would be equal to 36 million fish.

This difference was driven in part by the team’s ability to survey large expanses not previously surveyed by NOAA given limited resources.

A map of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida showing the redsnapper estimate for each region. In the Texas region, the populationwas estimated at 23 million. In the Louisiana region, the population wasestimated at 29 million. In the Mississippi/Alabama region, thepopulation was estimated at 10 million. In the Florida region, thepopulation was estimated at 48 million. The map also shows a breakdownof red snapper estimates by habitat type for each region. In Texas, 1million red snapper were estimated over artificial habitat, 6 millionwere estimated over natural habitat, and 16 million were estimated overunclassified bottom. In Louisiana, 7 million red snapper were estimatedover artificial habitat, 5 million were estimated over natural habitat,and 17 million were estimated over unclassified bottom. InMississippi/Alabama, 2 million red snapper were estimated overartificial habitat, 4 million were estimated over natural habitat, and 4million were estimated over unclassified bottom. In Florida, less than 1million red snapper were estimated over artificial habitat, 17 millionwere estimated over natural habitat, and 31 million were estimated overunclassified bottom.1

Region- and habitat-specific red snapper population estimates resulting from the Great Red Snapper Count.
Each circle contains a breakdown (in millions) of the regional estimate by habitat type.

*Previously unknown features located over open sand/mud bottom.

Graphic by Emily Seubert and Catherine Cowan, Mississippi State University.​

The project team tagged thousands of red snapper over the course of the study. Of those, an astounding 31% were recaptured by anglers:

Texas – 28% • Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama – 28% • Florida – 43%

Two boys pose on a boat in the ocean, each holding a large red-orange fish. One fish has one yellow tag attached to its back, and the other fish has two tags.
Two Mississippi brothers celebrate their tagged red snapper, caught back-to-back at a spot the boys have since renamed the “Money Maker.” Photo by Brian Fore
A young boy smiles at the camera as he poses on a boat in the ocean. He is holding a large orange fish with two yellow tags on its back. A man smiles in the background.
A young Texas angler proudly displays his double-tagged red snapper. Photo by Andy Venables.
Two smiling men stand in a pavilion. One holds a large orange and white fish with a yellow tag on its back, and the other gives a thumbs-up sign.
A smiling angler weighs in his tagged red snapper at the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. Photo by Merritt McCall.
Three smiling people stand at the bottom of a staircase. One is holding a large orange and white fish with two yellow tags in its back.
Alabama anglers show off their double-tagged red snapper while standing alongside the fisheries scientist who initially tagged the fish. Photo by Merritt McCall.

We are grateful to all the citizen scientist anglers who assisted with this red snapper abundance assessment.

thank you

The Great Red Snapper Count results will be used to enhance NOAA’s upcoming red snapper assessments and will fundamentally change the way fish stocks are evaluated in the future.

This independent study was conducted by a leading team of red snapper scientists from across the Gulf of Mexico and beyond:

Sea Grant Mississippi Alabama, The University of Southern MississippiMississippi State University, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Auburn University, University of Florida, Louisiana State University, Texas A&M Galveston Campus, Florida International University, University of South Alabama

This publication was supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under NOAA Award NA16OAR4170181, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, and the Mississippi State University Extension Service. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of any of these organizations.

Questions or comments? Contact the project team at snappercount@harteresearchinstitute.org.
For more information, visit snappercount.org.


Publication 3602 (POD-08-21)

MASGP-20-038

Produced by Agricultural Communications.

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Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director

Department: Coastal Marine Extension Program

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