Atlantic Croaker (Micropogonias undulatus)
Unlock the Secrets of the Atlantic Croaker: Discover an Amazing Fish Species!
The Atlantic Croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) is an important part of the fisheries near the Atlantic coasts of North and South America. It a prized catch for both recreational and commercial fisheries due to its mild white flesh and availability throughout the year. The species is often found in shoals nearshore, from seagrass beds to mud and sand bottoms. Its diet consists of a variety of aquatic organisms depending on their size. The Atlantic Croaker is a resilient species, and is an important part of the ecosystem, providing food for larger predators as well as commercial fisheries. It is also a hardy species that is capable of adapting to a variety of conditions, making it a beneficial species for both recreational and commercial fisheries.
Atlantic Croaker (Micropogonias undulatus)
The Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) is a species of fish belonging to the family Sciaenidae, belonging to the non-metropolitan area, on the coasts of South and North America, relatively abundant fish found in areas of most of the USA east coast, particularly in Texas and Florida.
The Atlantic croaker feeds mainly on zooplankton and small fish, although it can also love worms, crustaceans and other small prey. When it grows, it feeds on bivalves, shrimp, insects and other similar aquatic organisms.
The Atlantic croaker is a ray-finned fish with a silver-colored body with bronze or copper-colored stripes and a yellow or white belly. It has a laterally compressed body, large eyes, and a large cleft edged mouth. It can reach a size of up to 50 cm. in length and a weight of up to 1.3 Kg.
It is an omnivorous species, it usually feeds on crustaceans, shrimps, mollusks, small worms, and small fish in shallow, coastal waters, estuaries, and the lower reaches of rivers. In some areas, it also feeds on small benthic creatures and detritus.
The Atlantic croaker swims in large schools, usually near the shore and in shallow waters, which facilitates group feeding, with one of the strongest senses in fish – hearing. They also migrate, usually along the continental shelf, between the southeastern United States and the northern Gulf of Mexico.
They are widely marketed and sold for human consumption for its delicate flavor. It is most often sold fresh, although it can also be canned or frozen.
Habitat and Distribution
These fish inhabit the western Atlantic from Nova Scotia to the northern portion of South America and the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to the Yucatan Peninsula. It also inhabits estuaries, as well as shallow areas, generally preferring relatively muddy bottoms and preferring waters with temperatures between 18 and 19 degrees Celsius.
The populations of Atlantic croakers are typically sedentary, but they also carry out seasonal migrations along the continental shelf, usually in large groups. During spawning season, they tend to congregate in large congregations, mostly in estuaries and rivers, seeking shallow areas with a sandy or muddy bottom.
The breeding season of the Atlantic croaker depends on the habitat: in the southern Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, spawning occurs mainly between April and May, while in the northern part of their range it takes place between May and September. The spawning grounds are located close to the mouths of rivers, in estuaries, and in shallow coastal areas.
The Atlantic croaker spawns when the temperature of the surrounding water reaches between 5 and 22 °C, during a period which can last from 10 to 30 days. The eggs are dispersed during the night, each female releasing up to 13 million eggs.
The larvae hatch about three days after egg-laying and remain at the surface for about four days, after which they migrate to the benthic zone. The diet of the planktonic larvae consists mainly of planktonic animals and small crustaceans.
At the end of their larval stage, the juveniles commence their migration towards the estuaries, where they settle in brackish waters. By the end of their fourth year of life, they reach sexual maturity. The maximum life expectancy of the species is 7-10 years.
The Atlantic croaker is a commercially valuable fish, caught mainly with beach seines, gillnets and trawling. In the United States, it is mostly sold fresh and also canned or frozen. In Mexico, it is also used for fish meal, animal feed and fertilizer.
It is an important species in recreational fishing in the USA and Mexico, while in some parts of Mexico it is also the target of artisanal fishing.
The Atlantic croaker is classified as a species of conservation concern by the US Fisheries Service and this is considered a species of Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The major threats faced by this species include habitat destruction, water pollution, and over