Menhaden

These small fish form an important link in the Chesapeake Bay food web, which is why fisheries managers have placed a cap on the amount of menhaden that can be harvested from the Bay.

FAQ

  • Why are menhaden important?

    Atlantic menhaden are critical to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, filtering pollutants out of the water and forming an important link in the food web. Menhaden also support one of the oldest commercial fisheries on the Atlantic coast.

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Terms

  • Filter feeder

    An organism that feeds by straining plankton and other food particles from water that is pumped through its gills or mouth. For example, oysters and menhaden are filter feeders.

  • Food chain/web

    A food chain is formed as one organism eats another. A food web is a system of interlocking and interdependent food chains, in which each organism supplies energy to another life form.

  • Keystone species

    A species whose survival affects other organisms in an ecosystem. If a keystone species were removed from an ecosystem, the ecosystem would drastically change.

  • Nutrients

    Chemicals that plants and animals need to grow and survive but, in excess amounts, can harm aquatic environments. Elevated levels of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorous are the main cause of poor water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.

  • Predation

    The preying of one animal on others.

  • Prey

    A plant or animal that is hunted for and eaten by a predator.

  • Recruitment

    The addition of new individuals to a population by reproduction, commonly measured as the proportion of young in the population just before the breeding season.

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