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Bay Anchovy

Anchoa mitchilli

The bay anchovy is a small, translucent fish with a silvery body. (Samford University)
The bay anchovy is a small, translucent fish with a silvery body. (Samford University)

The bay anchovy is a small, translucent fish that lives in schools throughout the Chesapeake Bay. It is the most abundant fish in the Bay.

Appearance:

The bay anchovy has a slender, silvery-green, translucent body that grows to four inches in length. A silver stripe runs along its sides. It has a large mouth, a single dorsal fin on its back and a forked tail fin.

Habitat:

Common in the Chesapeake Bay’s shallows during warmer months, moving to deep waters in winter. Lives in schools.

Range:

Abundant year-round throughout the Bay and the lower reaches of rivers.

Feeding:

The bay anchovy feeds mostly on zooplankton, such as fish larvae.

Predators:

Bay anchovies are a critically important food source for larger predators such as bluefish, weakfish and striped bass.

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

Spawning occurs in May through September, with a peak in July. Females can spawn up to 50 times each season, producing more than 1,000 eggs in each batch. Eggs typically hatch within 24 hours. Growth occurs quickly, and fish reach maturity just a few months after hatching. Bay anchovies are believed to live longer than one year, but seldom longer than two years.

Other Facts:

  • Bay anchovies are the most abundant and commonly found fish in the Chesapeake Bay.
  • These fish are highly intolerant of low oxygen conditions, and are particularly sensitive to low-oxygen "dead zones."
  • Anchovies are economically important as a species used for fish oil and fishmeal.

Sources and Additional Information:




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