Opakapaka produce pelagic eggs and pelagic larvae spend about 25 days in the water column. Young Opakapaka have been found in relatively shallow water, from 200 to 300 feet, at about 10 months of age. They remain here until they reach 7 to 10 inches, or another 7 months. They then move to deeper water before settling down on the ocean floor where they will spend the remainder of their adult life. Opakapaka reach sexual maturity around 17 to 20 inches in length. Females begin maturing in June, with fully ripe eggs in July. Peak spawning activity for does not happen until August.
Opakapaka, or pink snapper, is named after its light crimson color. Like many of the deep-sea snappers of Hawai‘i, Opakapaka live near underwater headlands and areas of high relief such as seamounts anywhere from 300 to 1,000 feet deep. They are one of the heavily managed “Deep Seven Bottomfish” of Hawai’I which also include Ehu, Onaga, Kalekale, Lehi, Gindai, and Hapuʻupuʻu.
Opakapaka have a colour that ranges from brownish to lavender or reddish purple. At the base of its dorsal and anal fins, their last soft rays extend in short filaments, giving it its scientific name filamentous. Its tailfin has an orange edge and it typically has a yellow iris. Its lower jaw slightly protrudes. Opakapaka is the most sought after bottomfish in Hawai’i, with the highest pounds landed annually. Chefs prize the fish because of its versatility in cooking.
This fishery uses rods and reels to catch six species of snapper and one species of grouper that are called “bottomfish.”
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