Atlantic croaker

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Atlantic croaker
Micropogonias undulatus (line art).jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Sciaenidae
Genus: Micropogonias
Species: M. undulatus
Binomial name
Micropogonias undulatus
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Atlantic croaker in Pass Christian, Mississippi

The Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) is a species of marine ray-finned fish belonging to the family Sciaenidae and is closely related to the black drum (Pogonias cromis), the silver perch (Bairdiella chrysoura), the spot croaker (Leiostomus xanthurus), the red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), the spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), and the weakfish (Cynoscion regalis). This fish is commonly found in sounds and estuaries from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico.


The names croaker and drum are descriptive of the noise the fish makes by vibrating strong muscles against its swim bladder, which acts as a resonating chamber, much like a drum. During spawning season (August to December), croakers turn a deep golden color, from this comes the name golden croaker. When full-grown (three to four years), croakers reach between 1-1/2 feet long and 4-5 pounds, but on average are 1/2-2 pounds. They have traditionally been used for food by Native Americans, and their remains are found in shell middens. [1]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The Atlantic croaker is native to coastal waters in the western Atlantic Ocean. Its range extends from Massachusetts to Mexico and includes the northern half of the Caribbean Sea but possibly not the southern Gulf of Mexico or the Antilles. It is also thought to live on the coasts of southern Brazil and Argentina. It is usually found in bays and estuaries over sandy or muddy bottoms where it feeds on polychaete worms, crustaceans and small fish.[2]


Croaker populations greatly vary from year to year, and can be dependent on the conditions of their habitats. Their management is challenging due to the variability in their numbers. They make good eating and can be eaten fried, broiled, baked or microwaved.[2]


  • Robins, C. Richard, G. Carleton Ray, and John Douglass. A Field Guide to Atlantic Coast Fishes-North America. Houghton Mifflin Company. New York. 1986. 184-188.