Tautog onitis

Image by Robert Aguilar, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, CC BY 2.0

Physical: Tautogs, referred to as “Tog,” are brown, gray, or black with blotchy patterns or vague striped bars on the sides. Individuals reach approximately 12 inches in length. The Tautog’s dorsal fin has about 16 spines. Young Tautog are a light green color and live in the safety of sea grass. In 3 to 4 years, Tautogs mature and lose their green color, becoming uniformly black. Young Tautog can be up to 13 inches.

Habitat: Tautogs live in coastal rocky areas primarily around pilings, breakwaters, and wrecks, and range in waters off the coast of South Nova Scotia to South Carolina.

Feeding: Tautogs feed on a variety of mollusks and crustaceans such as mussels, barnacles, and crabs.

Breeding: Spawning occurs from late April to early August. The young are planktonic for about three weeks, and then seek refuge in eel grass beds. Tautog mature slowly, they can live up to 30 years.

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