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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:

Bay anchovies are common in the Chesapeake Bay’s shallows during warmer months, moving to deep waters in winter. It 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-September, with a peak in July. Bay anchovies are believed to live longer than one year, but seldom longer than two years.

Other Facts:

  • The most abundant and commonly found fish in the Chesapeake Bay

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
  • Chesapeake Bay: Nature of the Estuary, A Field Guide by Christopher P. White
  • Bay Anchovy – Chesapeake Bay Ecological Foundation
  • Anchoa mitchilli – Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce



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