Alternate Title

Food of the Red Drum, Sciaenops ocellata, from Mississippi Sound

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Examined digestive tracts of the red drum in Mississippi Sound contained mostly decapod crustaceans. Crustaceans accounted for 34 of 59 encountered taxa, more than reported from any other region. Nevertheless, the general diet for 104 fish with food contents out of the 107 examined is similar to that reported for red drum in several other studies from other areas. In addition to crustaceans, fishes followed by polychaetes occurred as the most important items (in 99, 43, and 15% of the drum with food, respectively). Blue crabs occurred in even more drum than the frequently encountered penaeid shrimps. Other commercial species were negligible in the diet. Sixteen large drum from Georgia beaches were also examined; unlike those from Mississippi, many of these contained echinoderms, but not polychaetes or penaeids. We suggest that the red drum’s migrations may be regulated by optimal abundance of specific types of dietary organisms.

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