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American Halfbeak

Hyporhamphus meeki

The American halfbeak is a long, skinny, tannish-green fish with a long lower jaw. (NOAA NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center)
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The American halfbeak is a long, skinny, tannish-green fish with a long lower jaw. (NOAA NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center)

The American halfbeak is a long, skinny fish that visits the Chesapeake Bay’s shallow waters in summer and autumn.

Appearance:

  • Long, skinny, tannish-green body
  • Silvery belly
  • Lower jaw, which has a fleshy red tip, is much longer than the upper jaw
  • Grows to a maximum of 7 inches long

Habitat:

  • Found in sandy, vegetated shallow waters
  • Forms schools at the water’s surface

Range:

  • Visits the Chesapeake Bay in summer and autumn
  • Ventures as far north as Baltimore Harbor

Feeding:

  • Feeds on algae and small organisms

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Spawns in the Bay during summer
  • Eggs attach themselves with adhesive fibers to floating blades of eelgrass

Other Facts:

  • Also known as Meeki’s halfbeak
  • Gets its name from its elongated lower jaw
  • Attracted to lights at night
  • A quick, agile swimmer that is difficult to catch with a net

Sources and Additional Information:

  • Fishes of Chesapeake Bay by Edward O. Murdy, Ray S. Birdsong and John A. Musick
  • Life in the Chesapeake Bay by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson



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