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Local Estuarine Species of Barnegat Bay


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Title: Local Estuarine Species of Barnegat Bay

Local Estuarine Species of Barnegat Bay
  • Presented by Students of the Marine Academy of
    Technology and Environmental Science

Click Here to Start
Welcome to the MATES Interactive Classroom Field
Guide. To continue please select an option below.
Selected Juvenile Species
Adult Species
Index of All Species
Factual Sources
Picture Credits
Adult Species
Terrestrial Species Species that live on
Marine and Aquatic Species Species that live
in water
Juvenile Species
Laughing Gull Herring Gull Great Blue Heron
Blue Crab
Bluefish Tautog Black Sea Bass Mummichog
Marine and Aquatic Species
Invertebrates Species without a backbone
Vertebrates Species with a backbone
Terrestrial Species
Vertebrates Species with a backbone
Marine/Aquatic Vertebrates
Marine/Aquatic Invertebrates
Acorn Barnacle Blue Crab Blue Mussel Clam
Worm Comb Jelly Common Marsh Snail Common Slipper
Shell Fiddler Crab Flat-Clawed Hermit Crab Gold
Star Tunicate Grass Shrimp Green Crab Hard Clam
Horseshoe Crab Lady Crab Long-Clawed Hermit
Crab Mantis Shrimp Milky Ribbon Worm Mud Dog
Whelk Northern Moon Snail Red Beard Sponge Ribbed
Mussel Sand Shrimp Shore Shrimp Spider Crab
Common Muskrat
Northern River Otter
Red Fox
Belted King Fisher Black Duck Black Skimmer Brown
Pelican Common Tern Double Crested
Cormorant Glossy Ibis Great Blue Heron Great
Egret Greater Black-Backed Gull Green Heron
Herring Gull Hooded Merganser Laughing
Gull Loon Mallard Duck Merganser Osprey Oyster
Catcher Peregrine Falcon Snowy Egret Yellow
Crowned Night Heron
American Eel Atlantic Croaker Atlantic
Silverside Banded Killifish Black Sea
Bass Bluefish Feather Blenny Hog choker Inland
Silverside Mummichog Naked Goby Northern
Kingfish Northern Pipefish
Northern Pufferfish Northern Sea Robin Oyster
Toadfish Sandbar Shark Sheepshead Minnow Striped
Blenny Striped Killifish Striped Bass Summer
Flounder Tautog Weakfish White Perch Winter
Northern Diamondback Terrapin
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Kemps Ridley
Eel Grass
Spartina Grass
Widgeon Grass
American EelAnguilla rostrata
Physical American Eels have an elongated body
and vary in coloration from green-brown to
yellow-brown. Dorsal, anal, and caudal fins are
continuous. The jaws have defined lip folds, and
the lower jaw is longer then the upper. Adult
females grow to 1.5 m (4 feet), males to 90 cm
(2.5 feet).
Breeding The American Eel spawns, releasing
gametes that form a leptocephalus larvae. When a
length of 2.25 inches is reached, they
metamorphose into free-swimmers. Into Autumn,
eels are known as elvers and migrate into coastal
waters and upstream. Life span is 5 to 20 years.
Habitat A. rostrata is anadromous. For this
reason, the eel can be found in fresh and coastal
waters throughout North America and Northern
South America.
Feeding American Eels are nocturnally active
omnivores, feeding at night on insects, mollusks,
crustaceans, worms and other fish.
Atlantic CroakerMicropogonias undulatus
Physical Croaker are dark gray-silver to blue in
color, with small dark dots forming irregular
horizontal patterns laterally. Average size and
weight are approximately 50 cm and 1.8 kg.
Habitat M. undulatus occur along the Atlantic
coast from Cape Cod south, extending to the coast
of Mexico. They are an abundant inshore fish,
and take shelter in muddy and sandy areas.
Breeding Mature Croaker spawn over the
continental shelf beginning in early September
and continuing through December. Females are
mature around 3 yrs., while males reach maturity
by 2 yrs. Juveniles prefer low-salinity open
Feeding M. undulatus are opportunistic
bottom-feeders. They consume a variety of
invertebrates and smaller fish.
Atlantic SilversideMenidia menidia
Physical Silversides are small schooling fish,
gray-green to silver in coloration with a lateral
silver stripe. M. menidia can be up to 15 cm in
Habitat Silversides are a coastal species,
living along sandy shores and the mouths of
inlets. They range from the Gulf of St. Lawrence
to northeast Florida.
Breeding M. Menidia spawn during daylight hours
from March to July. Breeding is linked to the
lunar cycle, and spawning only occurs during new
or full moon cycles.
Feeding Silversides feed on zooplankton and
phytoplankton. This includes, but is not limited
to, copepods, isopods, and a variety of algaes
and marine vegetation.
Banded KillifishFundulus diaphanus
Physical Banded Killifish have arrow shaped heads
with faint stripes. Their coloration is light to
dark with black stripes. They reach an average
size of 10.2 cm
Habitat F. diaphanous occurs in fresh to brackish
water, preferring lower salinities. They inhabit
shallow areas that are well vegetated.
Feeding Banded Killifish eat small crustaceans,
such as copepods. They also consume mayflies and
caddis fly larvae, as well as other macro
Breeding Killifish spawn in shallow areas from
June to mid-August. The eggs attach to submerged
vegetation to mature. Females lay approximately
50 eggs per clutch, which hatch in 10-12 days.
Black Sea BassCentropristis striata
See a younger me here.
Physical Black Sea Bass adults are blue to gray
black, and can be dark brown with various
blotches. Laterally, narrow stripes are present.
Approximate length and weight is 60 cm and 3.2 kg.
Habitat C. striata ranges from Maine to
northeast Florida and the east Gulf of Mexico.
They are considered temperate fish and live near
rock jetties, pilings, wrecks, and on rocky
bottoms in shallow areas.
Breeding Sea bass are protogynous
hermaphrodites, initially being female. Some
reverse sex and become male. The reversal
generally takes place after spawning between
August and April. They mature around two years of
age and lay approximately 250 million eggs.
Feeding Black Sea Bass feed on crustaceans such
as shrimp, crab, mussels, and razor clams.
Juvenile Black Sea BassCentropristis striata
See an older me here.
Physical C. striata juveniles are light to dark
brown with blue to white center scales, forming
vague lateral stripes.
Habitat See ADULT Black Sea Bass
Breeding Juveniles start as planktonic larvae.
When they reach approximately 13 mm, they migrate
inshore to estuaries, bays, and sounds. Every
individual starts as females, then some change
sex after spawning.
Feeding Juvenile Black Sea Bass feed mainly on
smaller crustaceans such as shrimp, amphipods,
and isopods.
Back to Juvenile
BluefishPomatomus saltatrix
See a younger me here.
Physical Bluefish have a dark to green blue
dorsal surface, and are blue to silver laterally.
The body shape is elongated and compressed, with
a large head and prominent teeth. The primary
dorsal fin has seven to eight spines.
Breeding In the mid-Atlantic, Bluefish spawn
during summer, peaking around July. Most spawning
occurs over the outer continental shelf. They are
mature at two years, with females producing up to
4.5 million eggs.
Feeding P. saltatrix are highly predatory and
are opportunistic feeders. They are carnivorous,
and their prey range from menhaden to mackerel
and herring. Because of their size, they have
few predators.
Habitat P. saltatrix can be found worldwide.
They are both tropical and temperate, a coastal
species often found in large schools.
Juvenile BluefishPomatomus saltatrix
See an older me here.
Physical Juvenile Bluefish are similar in
appearance to the adults, with no major
distinctions in morphology occurring between life
Habitat Developing juveniles spend their
formative months in estuaries, bays, and sounds.
The inshore waterways provide anchored, solid
structures for protection, refuge, and hunting
Breeding Maturity is reached at two years. After
the summer spawn, juveniles move shoreward.
Developmental years are spent in protected areas
such as bays and sounds.
Feeding Juveniles are carnivorous, and tend to
eat anything smaller than themselves that they
can catch.
Back to Juvenile
Feather BlennyHyspoblennius hentzi
Physical The Feather Blenny is approximately
8-10.5 cm. It has a continuous dorsal fin and its
pectoral fins are nearly all black in color with
brown spots all over its body. It also has close,
fine set teeth.
Breeding Spawning occurs from May to August.
Males entice females to lay eggs in empty oyster
shells and then guard the eggs after they are
laid. There are approximately 3,500-4,000 eggs
per batch.
Feeding Blennies prefer to eat small crustaceans
and mollusks.
Habitat H. hentzi ranges from New Jersey to the
Yucatan. It is also a year round resident to the
Chesapeake Bay and near grassy beds and rocky
Hog ChokerTrinectes maculatus
Physical Hogchokers are flat, right-sided fish.
The eyes, mouth, and coloration appear along the
right lateral surface. They are dark olive to
brown in coloration and speckled white.
Individuals average 15 cm in length. T.
maculatus has no pectoral fins.
Breeding The hogchoker is a late spring and
summer spawner, breeding from May to August. A
mature female produces 54,000 eggs over the
course of her life.
Feeding Mature individuals of T. maculatus feed
primarily on annelid worms and a variety of small
crustaceans such as krill.
Habitat T. maculatus are found off the Atlantic
and Gulf Coasts of North America, from
Massachusetts to Panama. They are rarely found
north of Cape Cod, and are most common in the
immediate vicinity of the coast.
Inland SilversideMenidia beryllina
Physical The Inland Silverside is approximately
10 cm long. The edge of the anal fin is strongly
curved, usually containing 16-19 rays.
Breeding Spawning in the silverside occurs in
May and June. There are about 450-785 eggs. When
the eggs are released they attach to objects in
the water where they remain until they hatch.
Feeding Silversides eat microcrustaceans and
aquatic and terrestrial insects.
Habitat It ranges from Massachusetts to Florida
and around the Gulf of Mexico and is found in
coastal fresh and tidal waters, found in large
MummichogFundulus heteroclitus
See a younger me here.
Physical Mummichog range in color from
olive-gray to green-brown, with dark silver
lateral bars. F. heteroclitus have blunt heads,
and reach an average size of 12.5 cm.
Breeding Mummichog spawn from April until the
end of August in a cycle correlating with spring
tides. Eggs are laid at levels reached only by
spring tides, and are deposited in hidden
clutches of 10 to 300. Hatching is delayed until
the eggs are reached by the next spring tide.
Feeding F. heteroclitus consume various plants
and animals, including diatoms, amphipods,
mollusks, crustaceans, and small fishes.
Habitat This species ranges from the Gulf of St.
Lawrence to northeast Florida. They shelter
primarily in salt marshes, tidal creeks, and
occasional enter freshwater bodies.
Juvenile MummichogFundulus heteroclitus
See an older me here.
Physical Juvenile F. heteroclitus are very
similar to the mature Mummichog. The males lack
the orange on their fins. Juveniles have an olive
Habitat The young of F. heteroclitus spend much
of their time in marsh tidal pools until they are
bigger. They then spend more time in more open
Feeding Juveniles feed on small shrimp, larval
insects, amphipods, zooplankton, as well as other
smaller species that come into their area.
Breeding When Mummichog are young, they spend
much of their time in marsh tidal pools, because
that they are unable to survive and reproduce.
Back to Juvenile
Naked GobyGobiosoma bosci
Physical The Naked Goby can reach up to 5 cm in
length. They are usually light brown in color
with approximately 10 dark bars laterally. Males
tend to be darker than females.
Breeding Naked Gobies spawn during the summer.
They produce yellow eggs that stick together in
clumps and are deposited by the female inside a
males burrow. Males protect the nest, and eggs
hatch after about five days.
Habitat G. bosci range from Rhode Island to
Florida and Texas, and is one of the few species
of gobies that can tolerate cold waters. They
are mainly a brackish water fish, and prefer to
live in mud crab burrows.
Feeding G. bosci are opportunistic feeders they
primarily feed on shrimp, worms, and other
species eggs when available. They tend to feed
around dawn or dusk.
Northern KingfishMenticirrhus saxatilis
Physical Kingfish are brown to dark brown with
bars in stripes laterally. They reach an
approximate average size of 46 cm at maturity.
Breeding Spawning occurs from April to May off
North Carolina, from June to August off Maine.
Most males are mature by 2 yrs., females by 3
yrs. Eggs are hatched between 46 to 50 hrs.
Maximum length is 43.2 cm, with a weight of 6.6
Habitat M. saxatilis live in shallow coastal
waters from Massachusetts throughout Florida and
the Gulf of Mexico.
Feeding The Northern Kingfish uses barbels on
its snout to find prey in the sand.
Northern PipefishSygnathus fuscus
Physical Pipefish have a darkened gray-green
body color with a non-distinctive mottled
pattern. They have 36-39 dorsal rays, used to
differentiate closely related species. Maximum
size is approximately 30 cm at maturity.
Feeding Pipefish feed on zooplankton such as
copepods, amphipods, and also megalops larvae and
fish eggs.
Breeding Pipefish are related to seahorse. The
young are carried by the males in a specialized
brood pouch. Females deposit the eggs in the
males pouch, where they are fertilized and
protected until they hatch.
Habitat S. fuscus range from the St. Lawrence to
the Gulf of Mexico, and shelter in shallow waters
and sea grass beds in the bay.
Northern PufferfishSphoeroides maculatus
Physical Puffers are dark gray to olive, with
mottled yellow and black spots. The ventral
surface is ivory to white with no distinguishing
marks, but fading to yellow around the edges.
Organisms reach an average of 25 cm in length.
Habitat S. maculatus are found from New
Foundland to northeast Florida. They shelter in
bays, sounds, estuaries, and prefer silt to sand
Feeding Northern Pufferfish feed on hard-shelled
invertebrates such as clams and mussels. To
escape predators, the pufferfish can expand its
body cavity to appear larger and more threatening.
Breeding S. maculatus spawn from May to August
in nearshore waters and estuaries. The
fertilized eggs attach themselves to the
substrate and hatch a few weeks later.
Northern Sea RobinPrionotus carolinus
Physical Sea Robin can grow up to 38 cm. Their
body has a black spot near the edge of the first
dorsal fin. It also has 4 -5 spines and 12 anal
fin rays. The Sea Robin is often misidentified as
a flying fish for its wing-like pectoral fins.
Breeding P. carolinus spawn from late spring
through the summer. It occurs in the bay from
spring to early winter, moving offshore and
southward during the winter.
Feeding The diet of Prionotus carolinus consists
of worms crustaceans and mollusks.
Habitat P. carolinus ranges from Nova Scotia to
Florida. It is a bottom dweller residing in bays
and inlets.
Oyster ToadfishOpsanus tau
Physical Toadfish are large, flat fish with
olive brown coloration dorsally, and a pale
ventral surface. They can grow to approximately
38 cm.
Habitat O. tau range from Cape Cod to southern
Florida. They prefer shallow waters inshore, and
take refuge in vegetation or debris.
Breeding Spawning occurs from April to October.
The males establish nesting areas that are
somewhat enclosed, using debris. Females swim
into the nest and lay eggs that are approximately
0.64 cm in diameter. The males fertilize the eggs
and guards them until they hatch as free-swimming
Feeding Toadfish are omnivorous. They ambush
their prey by hiding on the bottom and passively
waiting, then snapping out to kill.
Sandbar SharkCarcharinus plumbeus
Physical The Sandbar shark is very heavy bodied.
It is dark brown or gray from above and becoming
lighter in color on the ventral side. It has a
large dorsal fin for fast movement through the
Habitat C. plumbeus ranges from Massachusetts to
Brazil and nearly worldwide in tropical and
temperate waters. They reside in muddy coastal
waters in no more than 18 m of depth.
Feeding The diet of this shark is fish,
shellfish, skates, stingrays, squid, shrimp,
crabs mollusks, and other small sharks.
Breeding Sandbar sharks reproduce every other
year. Reproduction involves oviviparous
development with up to 14 pups per litter with a
9 month gestation period .
Sheepshead MinnowCyprinodon variegatus
Physical Sheepshead Minnow reach an average
length of 5 cm. They have small, rounded bodies
with lateral striations, and a generally mottled
Habitat C. variegatus occurs in beds of
vegetation, salt marsh ditches and pools, and in
undisturbed areas. They range predominantly
along estuaries of the east coast of the United
Feeding Sheepshead Minnow feed primarily on
small crustaceans and invertebrates, such as
shrimp, isopods, and amphipods.
Breeding C. variegatus exhibit sexual dimorphism
during breeding season, when the males develop
bright blue crests laterally and orange pelvic
fin coloration.
Striped BlennyChasmodes bosquianus
Physical They are characterized by elongated,
tapering bodies and a continuous long dorsal fin.
The Atlantic species can be found as far north as
New York.
Habitat Blennies are commonly found among oyster
beds and hard bottoms. During winter months,
they will go towards deeper waters about 30 m
Feeding Blenny's feed primarily during the day.
They feed on anything ½ their size in their
habitat. They also feed on oysters, clams, and
Breeding C. bosquianus breeds during
summer-spring in shallow, warm water. Only about
50 reach maturity.
Striped KillifishFundulus majalis
Physical Killifish are gray to brown with black
stripes. They possess fourteen to fifteen dorsal
spines, which are used to differentiate F.
majalis from closely related species. Individuals
reach an average of 18 cm in length at maturity.
Habitat Striped Killifish range from New
Hampshire to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
Preferred habitat is inshore around submerged
structures, including salt marshes.
Feeding Killifish eat small crustaceans, flying
insects, and plant seeds. Juveniles are limited
to smaller crustaceans such as ostracods,
copepods, and midge larvae. Feeding is most
active in the afternoon.
Breeding F. majalis spawns from June to
mid-August in shallow water near vegetation.
Clutches can number up to 50 eggs, with females
laying multiple clutches. Embryos hatch in 10 to
12 days and are 6 to 7 mm.
Striped BassMorone saxatilis
Physical Striped Bass are light green to brown,
and silver to blue-black. Black stripes or
mottling are apparent laterally. At maturity,
individuals average 1.8 m in length and 23 kgs.
Breeding In late winter and spring, mature
Striped Bass move inshore from the ocean to
spawn. Spawning is triggered by increased water
temperature, and occurs from April to June. Year
classes of females may not mature for 8 yrs.,
while males are mature at 2 or 3.
Feeding Juveniles feed primarily on small
crustaceans and cladocerans. Adults are
piscivorous, and eat any smaller fish than
Habitat M. saxatilis range from the St.
Lawrence Seaway to Florida, and west to
Louisiana. They are also prevalent in the pelagic
zone of the Atlantic. Individuals also range in
coastal waters where they prefer estuaries.
Summer FlounderParalichthys dentatus
Physical Flounder are large, flat fish with a
distinctive ivory to light brown coloration. They
attain an average size of 94 cm and a weight of
12 kg.
Breeding Summer Flounder spawn during their
offshore migration from late summer to
mid-winter. Larvae then drift inshore and enter
protected coastal habitats from October to May.
When the larva metamorphose, the right eye
gradually migrates to the left side of the head,
distinguishing Summer Flounder from the
right-sided Winter Flounder, and the body
Habitat P. dentatus range from Maine through
north Florida. They inhabit estuaries and coastal
waters, and are bottom dwellers.
Feeding P. dentatus are carnivorous, and hunt
small fishes, squid, worms, shrimp, and other
TautogTautog onitis
See a younger me here.
Physical Tautogs, referred to as Tog are dark
blue-gray to black, with blotchy patterns and
vague stripes laterally. Individuals reach
approximately 91 cm and weigh about 10 kg.
Habitat T. onitis live in coastal rocky areas
primarily around pilings, breakwaters, and
wrecks, and range in waters off the coast of Nova
Scotia south to South Carolina.
Feeding Tautogs feed on a variety of mollusks
and crustaceans such as mussels, barnacles, and
Breeding Spawning occurs from late April to
early August. The young are planktonic for about
three weeks, and then seek refuge in eel grass
beds. Juveniles lose their green coloration with
maturity, usually in three to four years, and
become uniformly black.
Juvenile TautogTautoga onitis
See an older me here.
Physical Young togs are planktonic for about 3
weeks. The young than become a bright green were
they can be found in the safety of the sea grass.
The young lose there bright green color in 3-4
years were they become uniformly black. Mature
young are 13 inches (32cm) long.
Habitat Generally found in coastal areas, around
pilings, breakwaters and wrecks. They can be
found from Nova Scotia to South Carolina, mainly
in estuaries where there is an abundant food
Feeding T. onitis feeds on shellfish (mostly
mussel) and crustacea. Juvenile tog are
considered feeder fish for larger pelagic
Breeding Tautog mature slowly, they can live up
to 30 years. Spawning occurs from late April to
early August in both lower bay and offshore
locations. Spawning typically occurs daily
during this time, with dominant males and females
pair spawning, and smaller fish group spawning.
Back to Juvenile
WeakfishCynoscion regalis
Physical Weakfish have long, compact bodies and
reach 90 cm in length and 5 kg. Coloration is
typically iridescent olive green, with dark spots
dorsally and laterally. Their ventral surface is
white to silver.
Habitat C. regalis ranges from Nova Scotia
through north Florida. They migrate between
inshore and offshore areas throughout their
Feeding Weakfish feed on shrimp, small
crustaceans, and small fish found in and around
eel grass beds.
Breeding Weakfish spawn from May to October in
estuaries along the coast. Females produce more
then 300,000 eggs. Larvae hatch and take up
residence in estuaries from April to August.
White PerchMorone americana
Physical White Perch can weigh up to 2 kg and be
up to 30 cm in length. It can be identified by
the dorsal fin which has 4-6 spines.
Habitat The White Perch is found in estuaries
and freshwater ecosystems from Nova Scotia to
South Carolina. This fish is found in high silt,
mud, or clay areas. Perch prefers water with a
salinity of less than 18 parts per thousand.
Feeding Morone americana feed on mollusks,
insects, crustaceans, worms, small minnows, and
fish eggs.
Breeding White Perch are semi-anadromous
spawners. They move into waters of low salinity
in April through June to spawn.
Winter FlounderPleuronectes americanas
Physical Winter Flounder can grow to
approximately 58 cm. It is dorsal ventrally
compressed with two eyes on its right side. Color
can vary from reddish-brown to olive-green or
even black.
Habitat This species of flounder can range from
Labrador to Georgia. They can rarely be found
south of the Chesapeake and are most abundant in
the Gulf of Maine. They are bottom dwellers which
prefer an environment of mud or sand
approximately 30 m from the surface.
Breeding Spawning occurs from December through
June primarily in upper estuaries. The female
will lay between 500,000 to 1,500,000 eggs. The
eggs are laid on sandy substrates and incubate
for 15 to 25 days.
Feeding Adult flounder feed on small plant
matter and benthic invertebrates such as
crustaceans, cnidarians, and mollusks.
Common MuskratOndatra zibethica
Physical The adult muskrat is chiefly aquatic
but moves overland mostly in autumn. They have a
head to body length of 10-14 in. (25-36 cm) and a
tail length of 8-11 in. (20-28 cm), weighing 2-4
lb. (908-1816 g). Muskrat have dense rich brown
fur overlaid with coarse guard hairs. Their
belly is covered with a silvery colored fur.
Their tails are hairless with scales that are
flattened from side to side.
Breeding The muskrat has a gestation period of
22-30 days having 2-3 litters a year. Litters
consisting of 5-6 naked and blind young. There
is 1 family to each house, burrows in the banks
with their entrances usually underwater. Mating
is from April-August in the north, and winter
months in the south.
Feeding O. zibethica are omnivores which feed
mostly on aquatic vegetation along with clams and
frogs and occasionally fish.
Habitat Most of its life is spent in open
waters, edges of ponds, lakes, streams, around
water lilies, rushes, cattails. They are found
almost everywhere in North America, mostly
mistaken for small river otter wile swimming
around in local mashes.
Northern River OtterLutra canadensis
Physical The river otter has an elongated body
with a broad, flattened head. Body size ranges
from 89-130 cm in length, and weight can range
from 4-13 kg.
Habitat L. canadensis live in clean rivers,
lakes, wooden ponds, and estuaries. They range
from New Foundland south to Florida.
Feeding Northern River Otter feed on a variety
of fish, small mammals, and invertebrates.
Breeding L. canadensis mate in the water in
early spring. Implantation is delayed, and the
total gestation period lasts 8-9.5 months. A
litter can range from 1-6 pups, but the average
is usually 2 locally.
Red FoxVulpes vulpes
Physical This small, dog-like animal is
rusty-red with white under parts, chin, and
throat. The ears are prominent and the tail is
long and bushy with a white tip.
Habitat Red fox prefer the edges of forests,
tilled fields and, marsh edges, but they can also
be found on farmland, beaches, prairies,
woodlands and both alpine and arctic tundra. They
thrive throughout most of New Jersey.
Feeding Their winter diet consists mainly of
small mammals such as mice, squirrels, and
rabbits. In the summer months, insects,
crustacea, turtle eggs and vegetable matter play
a more important part in their feeding habits.
Breeding Red fox are solitary animals, except
during the breeding season. Most of the day is
spent in the den or above ground in cozy hollows
called kennels. Foxes usually mate in winter.
Because of their short lifespan, females, or
vixens, breed two or three times, and males,
called dogs, usually mate only once.
Northern Diamondback TerrapinMalaclemys terrapin
Physical Diamondback Terrapins have wedge-shaped
carapaces that range from gray-brown to black.
Carapace length averages 15-23 cm, with females
being generally larger than males.
Habitat M. terrapin terrapin are found in
brackish waters of salt marshes, tidal creeks,
and estuaries. They range along the Atlantic
Coast from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras.
Feeding Terrapins feed on a variety of fishes,
marine snails, invertebrates, mollusks, carrion,
clams, and worms.
Breeding M. terrapin terrapin nest between June
and July at high tides. Females are sexually
mature at 7 years. Clutches range from 4-18
eggs, and incubate for 9-15 weeks.
Loggerhead Sea TurtleCaretta caretta
Physical The loggerhead has a reddish brown
carapace and a yellow plastron. The average
carapace length is 92 cm. Body mass averages 113
Habitat C. caretta can be found in a variety of
water conditions. They occur along the entire
Atlantic coast, but are seldom found outside of
the southeast region.
Feeding Loggerheads feed primarily on benthic
invertebrates. Although they scavenge fish
occasionally, they are not piscivores.
Breeding C. caretta mate from late March to
early June. The primary nesting season is in
June and July. The average clutch consists of
100-125 eggs.
Kemps RidleyLepidochelys kempi
Physical Kemps Ridley turtles grow to 2 feet
(60 cm) curved carapace length with almost as
wide a carapace width.  Their carapace is almost
circular.  Kemps turtles can grow up to 80 lbs
(38 Kg).  They are one of eight types of sea
turtles found world-wide with a narrow niche
along the Atlantic Coastline.  
Breeding Female Kemps Ridley sea turtles lay
eggs on the beaches of the northern Mexican Gulf
coastline.  Females can deposit up to 100 eggs
per clutch (most being fertilized) and nest a few
times during the season.  Not much is known about
their fertilization methods, nor the lifecycle of
Feeding These species feed on fish and other
invertebrates that could be found in a near-shore
environment.  They are smaller than other sea
turtles, thus are suspected to feed near/on
estuarine bodies along the coast.  
Habitat Kemps turtles enjoy the warm waters
along the western Atlantic coastline and inhabit
  the Gulf of Mexico along the Mexican Coast
during breeding season.  They are thought to
migrate from this area to as far north as Cape
Cod, MA.  Kemps sometimes get caught up on the
Cape and become cold-stunned.    
Eel GrassZostera marina
Feeding Eel Grass is a marine vegetation. It is
photosynthetic, and thus autotrophic.
Physical Eel Grass has long, flat leaves, and
can reach up to 1 meter in length it grows in
dense mats and has a complex root system. It has
inconspicuous flowers on the base of the leaves.
Habitat Z. marina grows in various substrates in
a wide range of salinities, commonly in bays and
sounds. The dense groupings of plants provide
refuge for juveniles of various species.
Breeding Z. marina is an angiosperm. It has
flowers that can be fertilized by the gametes of
the same plant or by another, introducing genetic
variety into the population.
The background of this field guide is Zostera
PhragmitesPhragmites sp.
Physical Phragmites are a very tall grass that
range from 1.5-4 meters tall. The bushy flower
part of the Phragmites range from 15-30 cm long.
The color Phragmites has is a reddish, silver,
and tan tints.
Habitat Phragmites is found in brackish water
along the waters edge, disturb areas, dredged
area, and even construction sites. This type of
plant has an aggressive growth rate. Phragmites
has a tendency to out-compete other plants.
Phragmites is a well populated plant.
Feeding This plant has no known predators.
Breeding Phragmites breed in late June and the
seeds form by August. The reed of Phragmites
open, letting seeds out, and they sprout new
shoots from rhizomes. Phragmites has a
horizontal root system underground.
Spartina GrassSpartina alternifloraSpartina
Physical S. alterniflora is a smooth grass that
averages from 1-2 meters in height. S. patens is
smaller, ranging from 30-45 cm. Flowers and
fruits are located on only one side of the stalk
in both plants.
Breeding Reproduction occurs through the spread
of seeds from the flowers and fruits of both S.
alterniflora and S. patens. S. patens flowers
from June through September. S. alterniflora
flowers from July through October. They both
also spread through rhizomes.
Feeding Canada geese consume S. alternifloras
rootstalks as a major part of there winter diet
along the shore. The seeds of both grasses are
eaten by marsh birds. Many small estuarine
animals feed off of the detritus from the
decaying grasses.
Habitat S. alterniflora is found in the low
marsh areas along the bay, while S. patens
thrives on the high marsh. The roots of S.
alterniflora help to keep the banks of its
habitat held together. S. patens is usually
found with spikegrass.
Widgeon GrassRuppia maritima
Physical Widgeon Grass has more delicate, narrow
branches than those of Eel Grass. Its leaves are
narrow, needle-like, and grow from a slender
stem. These leaves are approximately 2 in.
(50mm) long. The flowers and small fruit grow in
clusters of 2-4.
Habitat Widgeon Grass is a perennial plant
found in the northern areas of Barnegat Bay as
well as along the east coast to Texas. It is
usually in shallow areas with brackish waters
where it can extend its flowers above the surface
of the water. Widgeon Grass can tolerate lower
salinity ranges. SAV can help determine the
quality of the water.
Feeding Widgeon Grass is a favorite food source
of ducks and many species of shore birds. The
presence of Widgeon Grass is an indicator of
other species that can be found in the area.
Breeding Widgeon Grasses use both an asexual and
sexual reproduction. They grow flowers which are
fertilized by an adjacent plant. Then, release
seeds which are be dispersed by wind and water
into new areas. Asexual reproduction is
preformed by dispersing new shoots from rhizomes
through their root systems.
Acorn BarnacleBalanus sp.
Physical This genus includes many of the
barnacles on the eastern seaboard. Average size
is 5.2 cm in diameter.
Breeding Acorn Barnacles are r-strategists. The
larvae stage is free-swimming, while adults are
sedentary benthic organisms. Gametes are released
into the water column to be taken in and
fertilized by females.
Feeding B. sp. are filter feeders that use their
cirri to catch plankton and detritus floating in
the water column.
Habitat Acorn Barnacles grow in partially
brackish estuaries on rocks, jetties, and boat
bottoms. They are found from high intertidal
areas to 30 meters in depth.
Blue CrabCallinectes sapidus
See a younger me here.
Physical The Blue Crab carapace reaches up to
22.5 cm point to point, with nine marginal teeth
around the edges the ninth is the point of
measurement. The appendages are bright blue when
they are older, paler as juveniles. Swimmerets
are the last set of appendages.
Breeding C. sapidus are r-strategists. The
female egg cases resembles a sponge attached to
the apron. Male aprons are long and tapered, with
a pointed tip. Immature females have triangular
aprons, and mature females have aprons that are
dome-like in shape. When eggs are released, over
1,000,000 eggs hatch into larva and attempt to
survive. The female can only mate once.
Feeding Blue Crabs are scavengers of the sea
floor. They are omnivores that eat anything they
find, sometimes even their own young.
Habitat C. sapidus range from Cape Cod to
Uruguay, and live in estuaries, bays, and the
open ocean, varying in salinities. They take
shelter in eel grass beds and other structures
for protection while breeding and molting.
Juvenile Blue CrabCallinectes sapidus
See an older me here.
Physical Hatchlings are zoea larvae for the
first several molts of their lives. They are
planktonic in form, and remain so until they
metamorphose into megalops larvae. After this
stage, juveniles begin to resemble adults.
Habitat Juvenile Blue Crabs move wherever the
current takes them. They are not strong enough
to swim or move against the current until they
mature past the stage of megalops larvae.
Breeding Juvenile Blue Crabs are not capable of
reproduction until they reach maturity.
Feeding Juveniles of C. sapidus eat various
smaller forms of zoo- and phytoplankton.
Back to Juvenile
Blue MusselMytilus edulis
Physical A common bivalve mussel, M. edulis
possesses a smooth shell with pointed terminal
beaks, edged with small fine teeth. The shell is
glossy blue black, and the interior is a shade of
violet. Average size is 10 cm in length.
Breeding An r-strategist, M. edulis reproduces
sexually by releasing male and female gametes
into the water. Fertilized larvae are planktonic
and mature to settle onto benthic structures,
becoming sessile.
Habitat Blue Mussels range from the Arctic
Circle to South Carolina in estuaries to several
hundred feet offshore. Individuals form shoals by
mooring themselves to any solid anchored
Feeding Blue Mussels are filter- feeders that
consume plankton in the water column.
Clam WormNereis species
Physical Clam Worms have numerous parapodia on
their heads. The species range in size from
roughly 1-20 cm, and are usually a brown to
reddish color.
Habitat N. species are hardy, and can survive
salinities from 1 to 25 parts per thousand. They
are found in the lower intertidal zone to over
350 ft. down in burrows of sand bonded with mucus.
Breeding Clam Worms are r-strategists. Breeding
seasons vary with species, but are typically
between March and June, when gonads appear as
swellings on the organisms. Gametes are released
and fertilization is external, with development
carried on by trochophore larvae.
Feeding N. species are opportunistic feeders
they scavenge algae, invertebrates, and anything
else in the area on the bottom.
Comb JellyBeroe sp.
Physical Comb jellies are not true jellyfish
because they do not have nematocysts. They have
eight rows of cilia on their sides, possess
biradial symmetry, and are nearly transparent.
Habitat B. species can be found as far north as
Sandy Hook, but are more common in the south.
They are normally found inshore and in estuaries,
but can move with the currents and be found in
deeper waters.
Feeding B. species are carnivorous, and will
even eat other members of their own species.
They usually eat smaller fish such as silversides
and zooplankton.
Breeding Comb jellies do not have a sessile life
stage. Males and females release gametes that
combine in open water.
Common Marsh SnailMelampus bidentatus
Physical Marsh Snails are univalves that grow to
approximately 1.5 cm. They are top shaped and
have dark bands around their white shells. Color
variations are common.
Habitat M. bidentatus are found in marshes along
the estuaries of the east coast of the United
States. The marshes are primarily intertidal.
Breeding The Common Marsh Snails produce egg
cases that hatch a few weeks after being
fertilized. The young are miniature versions of
the adults, and are independent from the time
they are hatched.
Feeding M. bidentatus are scavengers, and feed
on dead or decaying matter in the marsh such as
decayed fish and plant matter.
Common Slipper ShellCrepidula sp.
Physical Slipper Shells are off-white and bumpy,
and grow no larger than 3.8cm. They are
univalves with a bottom plate that covers almost
half of the ventral surface of the shell. There
are three species found locally.
Breeding Slipper shells are hermaphroditic.
Generally, younger shells are male, while older
ones are female. After several months, between
juvenile and adult stage, individuals are
hermaphrodites. Individuals anchor themselves to
others of the species, forming colonies.
Habitat C. sp. attach to and grow on any
available hard object. They can be found on the
shells of invertebrates, pilings, and boat
Feeding Like most gastropods, C. sp. filter feed,
and collect food using their cirri.
Fiddler CrabUca species
Physical Fiddler crabs have a short carapace
length the maximum is 3.8 cm. The carapace is in
the shape of a square. Males possess one enlarged
claw that can be on the right or left side.
Females have two normal sized claws.
Breeding Fiddler crabs are r-strategists. Males
use a courtship ritual to attract females, which
they then fertilize. The eggs incubate for two
weeks underwater, and are then hatched.
Habitat U. species inhabit mud, sand, marshes,
and brackish water areas any place where tides
change to cover their burrows.
Feeding U. species use specialized appendages to
pass mud and sediment through their mouths.
Organic material is filtered out and inorganic
material is rejected.
Flat-Clawed Hermit CrabPargurus pollicaris
Physical The Flat-Clawed hermit crab is the
largest hermit crab in the northeastern United
States. They are usually gray to tan in color,
and very slow moving. Carapace grows to an
average of 3.8 cm.
Feeding Hermit crabs are opportunistic feeders.
They feed primarily on amphipods and scuds.
Breeding Like their relatives, the blue crabs,
hermit crabs undergo internal fertilization. They
are r-strategists producing many offspring.
Habitat P. pollicaris are found in shallow
waters, including estuaries, bays, and along
ocean beaches. They live in salt water, and can
survive salinities as low as 9 parts per thousand.
Gold Star TunicateBotryllus schlosseri
Physical Golden Star Tunicates are small
organisms with undefined body shape. Individuals
vary in color, and are usually found in small
groups or colonies that range from 5 to 40
individuals. Average size is 0.2 cm.
Feeding B. schlosseri are filter feeders, and
remove micro-organisms from the water that they
siphon through their bodies.
Breeding B. schlosseri reproduces asexually by
budding or sexually by releasing gametes. The
combined gametes produce a zygote, that then
encysts itself in a spore and attaches to a
substrate to develop.
Habitat Tunicates can live anywhere with a firm
substrate. They can live on boat bottoms,
pilings, rocks, and sand. They are found from
subtidal zones to shallow depths.
Grass ShrimpHippolyte species
Physical Grass shrimp are commonly two colors
bright green or dark brown. Their abdomen is bent
at a sharp angle, and maximum size is less then 1
inch. Females are usually larger than males.
Feeding Grass shrimp are omnivorous scavengers,
and feed primarily on small bits of vegetation as
well as amphipods and other macro invertebrates.
Breeding Fertilization is internal. The female
then releases the eggs over an area on the bay
floor. By spreading the eggs, it increases
chances for successful hatching
Habitat H. species live in eelgrass beds and on
submerged algae. They range from New Jersey to
the Gulf of Mexico.
Green CrabCarcinus maenas
Physical Green crabs have five marginal teeth
around the edge of the carapace. Females are
reddish on their ventral surface, while males and
juveniles tend to be more yellow. The average
size is 10 cm.
Habitat C. maenas occur between the intertidal
zone and 30 ft of water along the coast of the
northeastern United States. They have been found
as far north as Nova Scotia, with New Jersey as
the southern part of its range.
Feeding C. maenas are scavengers, and feed on
dead or dying organisms on the sea floor.
Breeding Like most crabs, the Green crab
produces a large egg mass, or sponge, on the
underside of the female that is composed of
fertilized eggs. The females carry the red to
orange sponge until their eggs hatch.
Hard ClamMercenaria mercenaria
Physical Hard clams, known as Quahogs are
bivalves. Adults average 10 cm wide, and can be
various shades of gray. The interior of the shell
is smooth and various shades of purple.
Habitat M. mercenaria can survive a wide variety
of conditions. The species is tolerant of
salinities as low as 15 parts per thousand. They
range from exposed tidal flats to depths of 60 ft.
Feeding Hard clams are filter-feeders. They
circulate water through their bodies by means of
a siphon system, and filter out edible organic
Breeding The quahog is an r-strategist.
Reproduction is sexual and achieved through the
dispersal of gametes into the water column. The
gametes are filtered by females, and
fertilization takes place.
Horseshoe CrabLimulus polyphemus
Physical Horseshoe crab females grow up to two
feet long (60 cm), while the males are noticeably
smaller. Females and males have five pairs of
appendages, but the first pair on males looks
like a boxing glove, while the females look like
the other appendages.
Breeding Horseshoe crabs gather in late spring
to breed on beaches all over the east coast.
Males climb onto the tails (telson) of females,
and internally fertilize the eggs. Males may
compete to fertilize females. Once fertilized,
the female releases eggs on the edge of the beach.
Feeding L. polyphemus eat worms and other small
invertebrates that reside in the bottom sediment.
Habitat L. polyphemus range from Maine to the
Gulf of Mexico, and can survive up to depths
greater then 75 ft.
Lady CrabOvalipes ocellatus
Physical O. ocellatus have a pale grayish
carapace with clusters of purple spots. They have
five marginal teeth along the front of the
carapace, and grow to a maximum of 15 cm. Their
last set of paired appendages are called
swimmerets, like the Blue Crab
Habitat Lady Crabs range from Cape Cod (North),
to as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. They live
in shallow subtidal areas with a sandy bottom.
Feeding Lady crabs are omnivorous scavengers
that eat anything smaller or weaker than
Breeding O. ocellatus produce an egg mass called
a sponge. The eggs are fertilized internally and
carried until they hatch.
Long-Clawed Hermit CrabPargurus longicarpus
Physical Long-Clawed Hermit Crabs are small,
with a maximum shell length of 2.5 cm. They are
tan or light gray with a dark brown to gray
stripe on their major claw and legs. Their
abdomens are not armored, and they must seek
shelter in the shells of other organisms.
Habitat P. longicarpus can be found in waters
less than 150 ft. They prefer firm sediment, and
are commonly found near Mud Dog Whelks, whose
shells they will use.
Feeding Hermit crabs are opportunistic feeders,
and eat any organic matter that they find. It is
not unusual for individuals to cooperate to
overcome or consume larger prey.
Breeding P. longicarpus are fertilized
internally. Once the eggs are released, they
become zoea larvae that undergo metamorphosis, at
which point they form a segmented abdomen.
Mantis ShrimpSquilla empusa
Physical Mantis shrimp are flat, large clawed
shrimp with three sets of weak walking legs. They
have powerful scissor-like mandibles, and
individuals grow to an overall length of 25 cm.
Habitat S. empusa hide in complex burrows, often
with numerous exits. They prefer muddy substrate
and can be found in subtidal areas to 500 ft. In
Feeding S. empusa primarily consume soft algae.
They filter organic materials out of the water
column for sustenance.
Breeding Mantis shrimp spawn in offshore waters.
Zygotes then pass through several larval
development stages before reaching full adult
Milky Ribbon WormCerebratulus lacteus
Physical The Milky Ribbon Worm is a long, milky
or creamy white colored worm. They can grow up to
106 cm. Males turn red during the breeding
season, while females take on a brownish tint.
Feeding C. lactues impale their prey with their
proboscis they eat small organisms in the water
Breeding The worms are r-strategists with many
larva. The worms are self-autonomous, breaking in
pieces to escape predators, and having asexual
capabilities. They can also mate sexually to
ensure proper genetic distribution.
Habitat C. lacetus live under rocks and in the
sand of shallow water areas. However, they can
swim from place to place in a side winding
snake-like motion.
Mud Dog WhelkNassarius obsoletus
Physical Mud Dog Whelks are primarily dark brown
to black, with white patches or stripes. They
reach little over 2.5 cm in length, and are
usually found in groups and various sizes.
Habitat N. oboletus prefer intertidal mud flats.
They can be found near-shore in protected areas
such as coves and harbors. Although they are
generally found inshore, they do range to
slightly deeper waters.
Feeding Mud Dog Whelks are scavengers that feed
on dead fish and other organic material.
Breeding Female whelks lay egg cases that are
later fertilized by the males. The incubation
period may be up to several weeks, after which
the young are hatched.
Northern Moon SnailLunatia heros
Physical Moon snails are univalves with an open
umbilicus. They are tan to gray in color, and
grow to approximately 10 cm across in length.
Habitat L. heros ranges from Labrador to North
Carolina. They are commonly found half sunk into
beach flats, scavenging for food, but have been
found at depths of up to 1200 feet.
Feeding L. heros are highly predatory they hunt
slower or sessile mollusks. The snail will drill
into the shell of its prey and eat them.
Breeding The Northern Moon Snail lays egg cases
that are fertilized later by the males. The eggs
are hatched later, and the young left to fend for
Red Beard SpongeMicrociona prolifera
Physical M. prolifera are red or orange in
coloration. Mature specimens are fanned, while
juveniles tend to encrust areas. Maximum height
is 20cm at maturity.
Habitat Red Beard Sponges range from Nova Scotia
to Florida and Texas. They range from inshore to
approximately 40ft. in depth and can survive
salinities as low as 15 parts per thousands.
Feeding M. prolifera filter water using their
ostia (pores), and using flagella to extract
organic materials from the water column. The
water then exits through the osculum (main
Breeding Sponges can reproduce either asexually
by budding or sexually by broadcast spawning.
Fertilized eggs are planktonic for several weeks,
until they settle as benthic organisms.
Ribbed MusselModiolus demissus
Physical Ribbed mussels are bivalves that are
dark brown to green in color, with well-defined
ribs running laterally.
Habitat M. demissus are abundant in marshes,
where they live in groups that line marsh plant
roots. They are commonly found half submerged in
mud, and thrive in brackish water with muddy
flats nearby.
Feeding Ribbed Mussels are filter feeders that
strain organic material out of the water column
by means of a siphon system.
Breeding Mussels disperse eggs and sperm by
broadcast spawning. Fertilized eggs become
zygotes and float in a planktonic stage for up to
three weeks, then reach a settling stage and are
benthic for the rest of their lives.
Sand ShrimpCrangon septemspinosa
Physical Sand Shrimp can range in color from
nearly transparent to mottled brown. They can
reach up to 7.5 cm in length at maturity, with a
short rostrum and hook-like appendages.
Habitat C. septemspinosa live in small burrows
or eelgrass beds, and range from the Arctic to
Florida up to depths of 300 ft.
Breeding Females are fertilized internally. The
eggs form ovarian cysts, in which they develop.
When they hatch, the female gives live birth.
The young go through several planktonic stages.
Feeding Sand Shrimp are predatory scavengers.
They will sometimes attack weakened prey, but
prefer to scavenge dead fish and other organic
Shore ShrimpPalaemonetes species
Physical Shore Shrimp are very common in the
Barnegat Bay. They are transparent, and reach a
length of 5 cm at maturity. They are easily
identified by their larger second set of paired
Habitat P. species live in shallow waters along
the East Coast, up to 45 ft. in depth. They are
usually found among submerged seaweeds, and blend
in well because of their transparency.
Feeding P. species are scavengers, and eat
anything easily accessible that is near them in
the water. They are commonly located around
decaying invertebrates and fish.
Breeding Shore shrimp breed similar sand shrimp
fertilization of eggs is internal, and live young
are birthed at hatching. Juveniles are
planktonic for approximately three weeks after
Spider CrabLibinia emarginata
Physical The carapace length of the Spider Crab
can reach up to 3.5 inches, and is often coated
in algae or other growth. Leg span can be up to
30 cm. Spider Crabs are walking crabs, with no
swimming appendages and very weak claws.
Breeding Fertilization of the female spider crab
is internal. Afterwards, the female forms a
sponge on her apron and carries the eggs to term,
which is approximately two weeks.
Habitat L. emarginata burrow into sediments to
seek refuge they are slow moving and relatively
defenseless against predators. They coat their
carapace with algae.
Feeding L. emarginata are slow scavengers that
generally only hunt and eat smaller organisms.
Belted King FisherCeryle alcyon
Physical Kingfishers are small birds with large
heads and bills, and can measure up to 33 cm.
They are blue-gray in color dorsally and white
Habitat C. alcyon occur in rivers, lakes, and
saltwater estuaries. They winter on the Pacific
Coast north to southeast Alaska and along the
Atlantic Coast to New England.
Feeding Belted Kingfishers feed on fish, crabs,
crayfish, salamanders, lizards, mice, and
insects. They make steep dives into the water to
catch their prey, and sometimes reach depths of
50 ft.
Breeding C. alcyon lay from 5 to 8 white eggs in
an unlined chamber at the end of a tunnel in
gravel or sand banks. Nests may be several miles
from the feeding grounds. Breeding grounds range
from the Aleutian Islands to the Gulf Coast.
Black DuckAnas rubripes
Physical The Black Duck is a large bird, 48-56
cm in size. It is sooty brown with a pale head,
white linings, and a violet speculum. Sexual
dimorphism is not present.
Breeding A. rubripes lay 9 to 12 greenish buff
eggs. They are placed in a nest of feathers and
down on the ground. Breeding grounds include
eastern and central North America, from Manitoba
and Labrador to Texas and Florida.
Feeding Black Ducks eat aquatic plants and
invertebrates. These include bivalves such as
mussels and various univalves like snails.
Habitat A. rubripes make their homes in ponds,
streams, and marshes. They winter from southern
Minnesota to Nova Scotia, and south to Texas and
Central Florida.
Black SkimmerRynchops niger
Physical The Black Skimmer can reach up to 50 cm
in length. They have a black dorsal surface, and
are white ventrally. Their bills are red with a
black tip. Lower mandibles extend past the
upper, enabling them to scoop the water.
Habitat R. niger make their homes on coastal
beaches and bays from Cape Cod to South America.
They winter in the southern part of this range.
Feeding Black Skimmers eat small fish, insects,
and smaller crustaceans such as shrimp.
Breeding R. niger lay 3 to 4 brown blotched,
buff eggs in shallow scrapes of sand. Incubation
period is approximately 3 weeks. Breeding occurs
from Massachusetts to Florida, and to Texas on
the Gulf Coast.
Brown PelicanPelecanus occidentalis
Physical Brown Pelicans are stocky birds with
flat bills. They reach up to 21 cm in size.
Their bodies are dark brown, and adults have
white heads. Coloration is inverted in juveniles.
Habitat P. occidentalis prefer sandy coastal
beaches, lagoons, waterfronts, pilings, and rocky
cliffs. They occur along the Atlantic and Gulf
Coasts as far as Texas.
Feeding Fish are the predominant diet of the
Brown Pelican. Individuals dive to catch their
prey their bills can hold up to 2.34 gallons of
Breeding P. occidentalis lay 2 to 3 chalky white
eggs in a stick nest built partly of debris.
Nests are usually on a rocky island near the
coast in an attempt to avoid predators.
Common TernSterna hirundo
Physical The Common Tern is a small, graceful
bird. It has a pale gray mantle with a black cap,
its bill and feet are red-orange with a black
tip. This species can grow up to 34 cm (13).
Habitat S. hirundo generally are found nesting
on beaches, or, back bays, and marshes. It is
also common to see them nest on islands in some
large lake areas. Nests are on the ground, based
in mats of bent-over grass stems in marshes, and
sand mixed with fine gravel on beaches.
Feeding Common Terns tend to feed on
invertebrates, insects, and some fish species. To
capture their prey these birds hover a few meters
over their prey before diving headfirst for their
Breeding Eggs are generally laid between late
May through July, with a clutch size of 2-4 eggs.
Both parents share incubation duties until the
eggs hatch in 21-27 days. Fledging occurs for
about 28 days.
Double Crested CormorantPhalacrocorax auritus
Physical Cormorants reach from 78-89 body and
neck, a hooked mandible, and short legs.
Habitat P. auritus live on lakes, rivers,
swamps, and along the coast. They occur from
Long Island south, and on the Gulf Coast to Texas.
Feeding Double Crested Cormorants consume fish,
and occasionally amphibians and smaller
Breeding P. auritus lay 3-5 chalky pale
blue-green eggs in a platform of sticks or
seaweed on the coast. The nest is in a tree or
otherwise elevated. Breeding grounds range New
Foundland south to Mexico and the Bahamas.
Glossy IbisPlegadis falcinellus
Physical The Glossy Ibis grows anywhere from
56-64cm in length. The plumage is a rich
chestnut brown color during breeding season. The
wings are a glossy green, giving the ibis its
Habitat P. falcinellus live in marshes, swamps,
flood fields, and estuaries. In the winter, they
migrate to the Gulf Coast, and on the Atlantic
Coast south from the Carolinas.
Feeding The Ibis eat crayfish, fiddler crabs,
insects, and occasionally snakes.
Breeding Glossy Ibis lay 3-4 pale blue-green
eggs in a stick nest in a bush or a tree. They
rarely place their nest on the ground. P.
falcinellus breed near the coast from Maine to
Florida and Texas.
Great Blue HeronArdea herodias
See a younger me here.
Physical Great Blue Herons reach up to 132 cm in
length. Their head is white with a black stripe
on each side. They extend back to small plumes.
Dorsally, they are grayish-blue with a white
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Habitat A. herodias live in lakes, ponds,
rivers, and marshes. They range from Nova Scotia
south to Florida, and west
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