Alternate Title

Early Life History of the Snook, Centropomus undecimalis, in Tampa Bay, Florida


Data accumulated during four sampling programs and incidental sampling are used to describe the distribution, growth, range of hatching dates, and diet of juvenile snook, Centropomus undecimalis, from Tampa Bay, Florida. A total of 1,655 juvenile snook ranging from 10 to 346 mm SL were collected (72% <70 mm SL). Small juveniles were common in small, quiet marshes, creeks, and lagoons, but their presence was not limited to areas with any single salinity range or vegetation type. Larger juveniles occupied similar habitats but were also found along more open bay and river shores. Length-frequency and otolith analyses were used to determine juvenile growth rates, which varied from 0.5 to 1.2 mm SL/day depending on the spawning date, size, and collection date. Growth data suggested that spawning took place from April until December, with peak spawning occurring in the summer (July to September). Juveniles <45 mm SL fed mainly on copepods and mysids; larger fish switched to a diet of palaemonid shrimp and cyprinodontid and poeciliid fishes.