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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Ocean Voyager

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Western Atlantic from Nova Scotia, south to Florida. Also occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, along coasts in the Caribbean, along the northern coast of South America and in the Western Atlantic from Brazil to the southern tip of Argentina.
  • Found in coastal waters, along sandy bottoms and in brackish water near rivers. Juveniles may be found in estuaries.

Physical Characteristics

  • Silver, grey or dark in color. Anal and pelvic fins usually dark in color.
  • Oblong body with a short snout, barbels on the chin, a spiny dorsal fin and a soft dorsal fin.
  • Juveniles may have 4-5 vertical black bars on the sides which disappear with age.
  • Common length of 19.6 inches (50 cm), with a maximum length of 66.9 inches (170 cm).
  • Maximum published weight is 113 lbs. (51.3 kg).

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet varies depending on life stage. Larvae feed on zooplankton. Juveniles feed on a variety of crustaceans, fish and annelids. Adults consume mollusks and crustaceans.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Matures between ages of two and six. Males tend to mature earlier than females.
  • Spawns near shore, in estuaries or in bays. Spawning season depends on geographical location.

Conservation Status

  • “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • The maximum reported age is 43 years.

Photo Credit: Dr. Al Dove