Hogchoker - Trinectes maculatus

 

hogchoker

 

Diagnostic characters: Diagnostic characters: Small flatfishes (usually smaller than 35 cm) with eyes and colour pattern on the right side (left-eyed individuals very rare); body round or oval in outline and strongly compressed. Snout rounded, mouth small, oblique and asymmetrical, subterminal; lips fleshy, often fringed with dermal flaps or fleshy convolutions; teeth minute, villiform, difficult to see, better developed on blind-side jaws, occasionally absent; without externally prominent bony orbits, eyes small to minute. Preopercular margin not free, concealed by skin or represented only by a naked superficial groove. Fins without spines, all rays soft; dorsal fin extending forward well in advance of eyes, the anterior rays concealed within a fleshy dermal envelope and difficult to see. Dorsal and anal fins not confluent with caudal fin. Pectoral fins present or absent, if present that of right side usually longer than left (left pectoral fin usually vestigial or absent on blind side); pelvic fins present bilaterally (apparently fused externally in Soleonasus), either free or joined to anal fin. Lateral line essentially straight, often indistinct,but most readily seen on ocular side, usually crossed at right angles by accessory branches (achirine lines) extending toward dorsal and anal fins; lateral line often ornamented with minute fleshy flaps or cirriform dermal processes. Scales ctenoid (rough to touch) or absent (Gymnachirus).Colour: ocular side brownish to near black, plain, blotched, scrawled, or with dark crossbars; blind side predominantly pale but often shaded or blotched with irregular brown patches or spots; albinistic or ambicolourate (replication of ocular side pigment on blind side) specimens rare.

Size: Maximum size to 20 cm.

Habitat, biology, and fisheries: Typically occurs in habitats with low water clarity, moderate oxygen concentration, and mud bottoms in shallow (50 to 60 m), inshore waters. Also ascends coastal rivers and enters fresh water. Spawning occurs May through October in inshore waters and estuaries. Eggs contain large numbers of oil globules and are positively buoyant.Following hatching, larvae move upstream and congregate in a low salinity nursery area on shallowmud flats close to the salt-freshwater interface where they remain during winter.As spring approaches juveniles move toward the spawning area. These 2 distinct movements, upstream toward the nursery area in autumn and downstream toward the spawning area in spring, apparently continue at least through the fourth year.As the fish mature they progressively increase their range of travel away from the nursery ground toward higher salinities. Juvenile salinity intolerance is not the driving mechanism of this migration pattern.Females growlarger and older than males;majority of individuals of both sexes mature as early as age 2 (greater than or equal to 70 mm total length);may reach 7 yrs of age.Feed on a variety of worms and crustaceans. Of no commercial or recreational importance; considered a trash fish. Collected incidentally in seines and bottom trawls.

Distribution: East coast of USA (Massachusetts to Florida), throughout Gulf of Mexico, to Panama.