Atlantic Menhaden

Brevoortia tyrannus

Image by Brian.gratwicke from Wikimedia, CC BY 2.5

Physical: Atlantic menhaden grows 14 to 18 inches in length. It has a blue, bluish-green, or bluish-brown body and silvery sides, fins, and belly, which often have a yellowish sheen. A dark, round spot on the shoulder behind the gill is followed by smaller spots arranged roughly in horizontal rows. It has a projecting lower jaw and a deeply forked tail fin.

Habitat: This species is found in Atlantic coastal and estuarine waters from Nova Scotia to Florida. Menhaden swim in large schools just below the water’s surface.

Feeding: Atlantic menhaden is a filter-feeder and consumes plankton.

Breeding: Spawning occurs in Atlantic coastal waters in spring and autumn. Most areas for spawning are from from New Jersey down to the Carolinas. Eggs are buoyant and hatch within 2 to 3 days depending on the temperature. Larvae spend about 1-3 months there before drifting via currents into the bay. They grow rapidly in the estuary throughout the summer. Many migrate back through the estuary after their first year. Menhaden can live 10 to 12 years.

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