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Needlefish

ATLANTIC NEEDLEFISH

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Strongylura marina

CHARACTERISTICS: The distinctive Atlantic needlefish has a long, slender body, elongated jaws with numerous sharp teeth, and dorsal and anal fins placed at the back of the body. The tip of the lower jaw extends slightly beyond the upper jaw. The body is generally translucent and light yellow to yellow-green above the lateral line, grading to silver below. A dark green stripe occurs on the midline of the back, and a narrow, bluish silver stripe runs along the sides. The fins are yellowish along the edges.

ADULT SIZE: 7.7 to 19 in (196 to 483 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Strongylura marina is common inhabitant of coastal waters from Maine to Brazil. In Alabama it has invaded fresh waters, occurring in coastal rivers and estuarine environments, in the Mobile basin upstream to the Fall Line, and in the Tennessee River drainage. Specimens of Atlantic needlefish from Alabama represent some of the farthest inland records known for this species.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: In Alabama, the Atlantic needlefish is usually found near the surface of large rivers and in the lower reaches of large tributaries, preferring open water. An efficient predator, this species is capable of sudden, short bursts of speed, which it uses to capture small fishes. Spawning occurs in late spring and summer, when females produce sinking, filamentous eggs that attach themselves to each other or to submerged objects. Inland populations apparently spawn in fresh water, although no studies have examined this. In coastal waters, the Atlantic needlefish feeds almost exclusively on fish, including silver mullet, killifish, silversides, and shrimp (Hildebrand and Schroeder, 1928). In Alabama rivers, it more than likely feeds on shiners, shad and brook silversides.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Walbaum described the Atlantic needlefish in 1792.

ETYMOLOGY:
Strongylura means Greek for rounded, referring to the long, slender, rounded body of this species.
Marina means of the sea.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.


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