Found in the Chesapeake Bay during the spring and summer, this species - like the Black Drum - got its name from a large and elaborate swim bladder that can resonate to produce croaking or drumming sounds. Atlantic Croaker are silvery greenish or grayish in color with brassy spots on the side. They boast three to five pairs of small barbels on their chin, slender whisker-like tactile organs housing the taste buds. Adults can grow up to 24 inches in length and can live as long as 13 years.
The species inhabits the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. In Maryland, adult croakers move up the Chesapeake Bay and coastal estuaries during spring and back toward the ocean in the fall.
They are bottom feeders, subsisting primarily on worms, mollusks, a variety of small crustaceans, and occasionally small fishes.
In turn, Atlantic croaker are food for many other fish, including striped bass, flounder, shark, weakfish, spotted sea trout, and bluefish.
Illustration by Diane Rome Peebles
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