ANSWER: It's often difficult to ascertain whether a fish is a hybrid, especially on the sole basis of photographs, Vic. Still, your catch appears to have characteristics of both lane snapper (Lutjanus synagris) and yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus), and in fact, the production of hybrids by these two parental species is well documented. The lane-yellowtail snapper hybrid, first described by Felipe Poey in 1860, was originally considered a unique species: Mesoprion (Lutjanus) ambiguus. Workers following Poey sometimes referred to this fish as the "Cuban snapper" or "Cuban gray snapper." However, an analysis of wild-caught snappers by William Loftus, as well as laboratory breeding studies by M. Domeier and M. Clark, all published in 1992, showed conclusively that lane and yellowtail snapper can successfully hybridize. Furthermore, Domeier and Clark suggested that yellowtail snapper and gray snapper (L. griseus) might also interbreed, resulting in the production of yet another hybrid. Dr. Cynthia Toth, Jessica Pinder and I are in the process of analyzing the protein complement and DNA sequences of the lane-yellowtail snapper hybrid, and are comparing these data to those obtained from the parental species in hopes of determining how genetically or biochemically similar the hybrid is to each of its parental stocks.
— Ray Waldner