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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)
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:

The American halfbeak has a long, skinny, tannish-green body with a silvery belly. It grows up to 7 inches in length. Its lower jaw, which has a fleshy red tip, is much longer than its upper jaw.

Habitat:

Found in sandy, vegetated shallow waters. Form schools at the water’s surface.

Range:

Visit the Bay in summer and autumn, venturing as far north as Baltimore Harbor.

Feeding:

The American halfbeak feeds on algae and small organisms.

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

Spawning occurs 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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