Like other species in its genus, the ladyfish has a long, slender, rounded body covered with silvery scales. Its mouth is terminal and the tail is deeply forked. The species can be distinguished by counting the number of gill rakers and vertebrae.
The ladyfish is distributed in the western North Atlantic Ocean from New England to Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico. Its distribution overlaps with the malacho (Elops smithi) in the southeast US and the southern Gulf of Mexico.
Like other members of the Elopidae, the ladyfish is a pelagic fish that spawns in the sea, but little is known about this marine phase. The larvae, which are transparent and laterally compressed, are dispersed inshore and enter embayments, where they live for 2 to 3 yr. The juveniles are euryhaline, or tolerant to a wide range of salinity, so these embayments may be low-salinity estuaries or hypersaline lagoons. Subadults move into the lower reaches of the embayments, and upon maturation, proceed to offshore, marine habitats.
This species uses estuarine areas and hypersaline lagoons; changes in the quality of these habitats may affect this species' population dynamics. Although this species may not be closely associated with any single habitat, it may be adversely affected by development and urbanization.
- McBride, Richard S., et al. 2010. A new species of ladyfish, of the genus Elops (Elopiformes: Elopidae), from the western Atlantic Ocean. Zootaxa. 2346: 29-41.
- McBride, Richard S. and A. Z. Horodysky. 2004. Mechanisms maintaining sympatric distributions of two ladyfish (Elopidae: Elops) morphs in the Gulf of Mexico and western North Atlantic Ocean. Limnology and Oceanography. 49(4): 1173-1181.
- Gehringer, J. W. 1959. Early development and metamorphosis of the ten-pounder Elops saurus Linnaeus. Fishery Bulletin. 59: 618-647.
- McBride, Richard S., et al. 2001. Nursery habitats for ladyfish, Elops saurus, along salinity gradients in two Florida estuaries. Fishery Bulletin. 99(3): 443-458.
- Adams, A. J., et al. 2013. Global conservation status and research needs for tarpons (Megalopidae), ladyfishes (Elopidae) and bonefishes (Albulidae). Fish and Fisheries. Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue.)
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