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Emperor Red Snapper, (Lutjanus sebae, Bourzwa)

The famous “bourzwa” is a robust fish with a stocky body and a distinctive steep head profile. The coloration of adults is deep red, but each scale along the flank has a pale centre. Younger fish are marked with three distinct darker shades along their body; the first incorporates the snout; the second runs across the mid-body region, directly below the dorsal spines, and the third includes the soft anal and dorsal fins, as well as the caudal fin, and may have pale margins. The fins are well developed, and include a single dorsal fin with 11 spines, plus 15 or 16 soft rays, and an anal fin of three spines, plus 10 or 11 rays. The pectoral fins reach the soft anal fin, and the caudal fin is moderately forked. Both jaws bear rows of fine teeth, those of the outer row being larger and conical-shaped.

The adults can attain lengths of 100 cm or more. It is a reef dwelling species, and is especially abundant on rocky and coral reefs. Some specimen can live in depths of  up 100 m. Feeding occurs both during the day and at night, and the diet consists primarily of crustaceans such as crabs, shrimps and crayfish. Occasionally, fish and squid can also constitute parts of its diet. Spawning occurs in more tropical regions, a particularity owed to the fact that juveniles make use of tropical estuarine mangrove swamps as nursery areas. The breeding season is fairly protracted, extending from November to April. Sexual maturity is attained at an age of four years,and at a length of 60-70 cm. Males grow larger than females. On maturity, the emperor snapper loses its distinctive banded pattern. At this stage of its development,  it usually becomes the dominant predator on the reef, and can often be seen chasing intruders from its territory.