Sunday, December 25, 2011

Red Drum

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Twelve Drummers drumming...
Sciaenops ocellatus

And we've reached the final day! Huzzah! Today's animal is the Red Drum, also known as the Channel Bass or Spottail Bass. This particular species is the only member of its genus, and can be found in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

Red Drums are fast growing fish, and can reach 11in long in only a year. They can reach length of up to 5ft overall! By 3 years they have reached sexual maturity, and the oldest recorded individual lived to be 37!

These fish are typically a coppery red, like their name implies, but they can also be a darker black or in a lighter silver. They can be identified by a large black spot that appears on the tail base. Sometimes you will find even more black spots, but it is rare to have no spots at all. The species name ocellatus even means "marked with spots!"

Red Drums are carnivores, and they use their downturned mouths to dig around on the sea floor for crustaceans and other hidden invertebrates. They also hunt higher up in the water column, and feed on many different species of fish.

Red Drums were once farmed commercially, but that practice was banned in most federal and state waters back in 2007. This ban has allowed the species to rebuild in areas where they were once harvested by the thousands. The fish continues to be caught recreationally.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico
Size : Length up to 5ft (1.5m), Weight up to 90lbs (40kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Perciformes
Family : Sciaenidae -- Genus : Sciaenops -- Species : S. ocellatus

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