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Fish on Fire

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Flame snappers inhabit the Indian and Pacific Oceans and are found from eastern Africa to the Hawaiian Islands and from southern Japan to northern Australia. They are deep-water fishes and are found at depths of 250 to over 1000 feet. One of the obstacles to conerving this and other depleted deepwater fishes has been a lack of knowledge about the kinds of habitat they require. Flame snappers almost exclusively use rocky habitats composed of ancient reefs formed by coral long ago. Small crevices, nooks and crannies within the coral rock harbor abundant prey and also provide protection for the young, immature individuals of the larger predaceous fish. Identifying habitat features that are required by these fish is a necessary step for designating potential marine sanctuary (no-fishing) areas. Such areas have proven valuable in recovering stocks of fish species that have been previously over-exploited.