Menhaden

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Menhaden, also known as mossbunker, bunker and pogy, are forage fish of the genera Brevoortia and Ethmidium, two genera of marine fish in the family Clupeidae.

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Description

Gulf menhaden and Atlantic menhaden are characterized by a series of smaller spots behind the main, Humeral spot and larger scales than Yellowfin menhaden and Finescale menhaden. In addition, Yellowfin menhaden tail rays are a bright yellow in contrast to those of the Atlantic menhaden, which are grayish. Menhaden range in weight up to 1 pound (0.45 kg) or more.

Atlantic menhaden

The Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus) is a small, oily-fleshed fish that plays a major role in the marine ecosystem on the east coast of the United States. It goes by many names, including Western Atlantic Herring, bunker, pogy, mossback, bugmouth, alewife, and fat-back. The maximum size for the Atlantic menhaden is usually 15 inches (380 mm). The average size is smaller in the southern portion of their range, and largest in the north. They are bright silver, and have black spots extending horizontally from the gill plate to the tail, with the largest directly behind the gill plate. They are quite flat and soft fleshed, with a deeply forked tail. The edges of the fins and tail often have a yellowish hue. At sea, schools may contain millions of members.

Taxonomy

Recent taxonomic work using DNA comparisons have organized the North American menhadens into large-scaled (Gulf and Atlantic menhaden) and small-scaled (Finescale and Yellowfin menhaden) designations.[1]

Range and habitat

Gulf menhaden range from the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico to Tampa Bay, Florida, finescale menhaden from the Yucatán to Louisiana, yellowfin menhaden from Louisiana to Virginia. The Atlantic menhaden ranges from Jupiter Inlet, Florida, to Nova Scotia. The various species of menhaden occur anywhere from estuarine waters outwards to the continental shelf.

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