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Eli's Fish Facts - Atlantic Croaker

Atlantic croaker

Micropogonias undulatus

The Atlantic croaker is a rare find for CURB, though not for the Hudson River in general. CURB caught two Atlantic croakers this year, which is the first time we’ve seen them on our shores since 2014! Croakers, also known as hardheads (or pin heads, for smaller specimens) are pinkish-silvery fish that are members of the Drum family. Their name stems from the croaking noise that they are known to make by flexing their muscles against their swim bladder. Croakers can live up to 8 years in the wild, and can grow up to 18 inches or even two feet long.

Atlantic croakers are bottom feeders, meaning they mostly eat organisms that live in the benthic (or bottom) zone of the river, like mollusks, crustaceans, worms, and even some small fish. Lots of larger fish prey on croakers, as well as humans - they are a popular fish with anglers. Adult croakers spend spring and summer in estuaries, and mate in the ocean over the continental shelf in the fall, where they stay through winter. Juveniles, however, spend the first one or two years of their lives in low-salinity to freshwater parts of estuaries, before joining the adults out on their fall-winter breeding migration.