Pogonias cromis, the black drum, is oblong and moderately
compressed with an elevated back and nearly straight ventral profile.
The head is short with a blunt snout and inferior, horizontal mouth.
The chin has 5 pores and 12-13 short barbels set close to the inner
edges of the lower jaw. A deep notch separates the spinous dorsal
fin with its 11 spines from the soft dorsal fin, which has 19 -
23 rays. The third dorsal spine is the longest. The anal fin has
2 spines and 5-7 rays. The caudal fin is truncate to emarginate.
Pectoral fins are approximately the same length as the head. Scales
are large and ctenoid. There are 41-45 lateral line scales. The
pharyngeal teeth are small and set in broad bands for effective
grinding of mollusk and arthropod shells. The vomer, palatines and
tongue lack teeth (Johnson 1978).
Body color in adults is a silver
to black base color, highlighted with a with a coppery or brassy
sheen. Fins are dusky to black in color. Young typically have 4-6
vertical black bars along their sides. Coloration may change depending
on habitat or age of the fish (Simmons and Breuer 1962). In the
Gulf of Mexico, black drum are nearly uniformly silver in color,
their vertical crossbars disappearing very early in life. Fishes
inhabiting bays and lagoons tend to be darker in color, typically
with a bronze dorsal surface and gray-white sides (Simmons and Breuer
1962; Johnson 1978).
II. HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
On the Atlantic coast of the United States, Pogonias cromis
occurs from southern New England south through Florida and
the Gulf of Mexico, to Argentina. It has been documented as far
north as the Bay of Fundy, but is much more common south of Chesapeake
Bay. Black drum are especially abundant in Florida and along the
Gulf coast to Texas.
Black drum are common throughout the Indian River Lagoon and have
notably large populations in Volusia and Martin Counties (Murphy
and Taylor 1995).
III. LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION
Age, Size, Lifespan:
Pogonias cromis grows to a maximum size of approximately
170 cm (67 inches) and may weigh as much as 51.3 kg (113.1 pounds)
(IGFA 2001). Maximum age is estimated to be 43 years on Florida's
Gulf coast, and 58 years on the Atlantic Coast (Murphy and Muller
Growth information for black drum
is relatively scarce, but some rate estimates have been produced.
Simmons and Breuer (1962) used length-frequency analysis and tag
return data to estimate growth rates in black drum, finding that
black drum in Texas measured approximately 160 mm (6.3 inches) standard
length (SL), at the end of the first year, 310 mm (12.2 inches)
at the end of the second year, and 415 mm (16.3 inches) by the end
of the third year. Older drum in their study had growth rates of
approximately 50 mm (1.97 inches) SL per year.
There is no evidence of sex-specific
differences in growth rates of black drum (Beckman et al. 1990).
Black drum mature at approximately 450 - 700 mm (17.7 - 27.6 inches)
total length (TL) when they are 2 - 6 years of age. Males mature
at somewhat younger and smaller size than do females. Murphy and
Taylor (1989) estimated that in northeastern Florida, males reached
maturity at 4-5 years of age when they measured approximately 590
mm (23.2 inches), while females reached maturity at 5-6 years of
age, at measurements of 650 - 699 mm (25.6 - 27.5 inches).
Pogonias cromis spawns in
bays, estuaries and nearshore waters (Hoese 1965; Etzold and Christmas
1979). Gravid and spent fishes are most commonly collected where
waters are 20 - 27 m (65.6 - 88.6 feet) deep (Ross et al. 1983;
Cody et al. 1985).
Spawning periods are dependent upon
geographic location. In Texas, up to 90% of spawning occurs from
February through March (Simmons and Breuer 1962), with limited spawning
continuing into June and July. Cody et al. (1985)) reported that
in the Gulf of Mexico, spawning in deeper Gulf waters around Texas
occurred from November through April. Florida, black drum also spawn
from November through April, with activity peaking during February
and March (Murphy and Taylor 1989).
Black drum are multiple spawners
with continuous oocyte recruitment throughout the spawning season
(Fitzhugh 1993), and are capable of spawning approximately every
3 days. Pearson (1929) estimated that a ripe female black drum measuring
1.1 m (43.3 inches) total length (TL) would produce approximately
6 million eggs annually. In a more recent study, Fitzhugh et al.
(1993) estimated fecundity of average sized females weighing 13.4
pounds at 32 million eggs annually.
Eggs of black drum are pelagic and measure 0.8 - 1 mm (0.031 - 0.039
inches) in diameter with 2-6 oil droplets in the early stages. Droplets
merge into a single drop in later stages prior to hatching. Eggs
hatch in less than 24 hours at 20 °C (Joseph et al. 1964).
Larvae measure approximately 1.9 - 2.4 mm
(0.075 - 0.094 inches) TL at hatching (Joseph et al 1964). The yolk
sac is completely absorbed when larvae grow to 2.8 mm (0.11 inches).
Upon reaching approximately 15 mm (0.59 inches) TL, the overall
adult body shape is recognizable.
After hatching, larvae rely upon tidal currents
for transport into estuaries, where they begin appearing in February
or early March.
IV. PHYSICAL TOLERANCES
Black drum prefer waters where temperatures range from 12 - 33 °C
(McIlwain 1978). Sudden temperature drops during the winter months
cause them to migrate to deeper waters. Mass mortality is somewhat
common when sudden, sustained temperature drops occur (Simmons and
Pogonias cromis is euryhaline and commonly found in waters
where salinity ranges from 9-26 ppt (McIlwain 1978). They have been
documented from waters of 0 - 80 ppt (Gunter 1956; Simmons and Breuer
1962; Leard et al 1993)), though adults found at extremely high
salinities show signs of stress and physical damage (Murphy and
Taylor 1995). Peters and McMichael (1990) reported juvenile black
drum, while occurring over widely varying temperatures and salinities,
most often are collected in low to moderate salinity waters over
unvegetated mud bottoms. Larger juveniles occur most often in higher
V. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY
Black drum are primarily bottom feeders, though they have been occasionally
observed feeding near the surface on small finfishes such as menhaden
(Ackerman 1951). Pearson (1929) reported black drum bottom feeding
in a vertical position in waters so shallow, their tails protruded
from the water.
Larvae feed primarily on zooplankton
(Benson 1982). Juveniles feed on annelids, soft crustaceans, amphipods,
and small fishes (Simmons and Breuer 1962; Peters and McMichael
1990). In Texas, approximately 33% of the diet in black drum measuring
21 - 50 cm (8.3 - 19.7 inches) or more in length consisted of the
surfclam (Mulinia sp.). Larger drum consume mostly mollusks
and crabs, while the largest specimens consumed mollusks and shrimp
(Simmons and Breuer 1962). Miles (1949) reported that black drum
in Texas fed primarily on shrimp, mollusks, and vegetation.
Large, captive drum were capable
of feeding on more than 2 commercial-sized oysters per kilogram
of body weight daily (Cave and Cake 1980). Black drum are known
to damage commercial stocks of oysters on seed reefs in lease areas
in Gulf of Mexico waters (Benson 1982).
Black drum likely compete with other drums, especially the red drum
for benthic food resources, but because of their strong pharyngeal
teeth, probably do not experience much competition for mollusks
(Sutter et al. 1986).
Juvenile black drum are preyed upon by a variety of larger fishes
such as seatrout and jacks. Larger black drum are likely to be preyed
upon by sharks (Murphy and Muller 1995)
Larvae enter estuaries on tidal currents and utilize seagrasses
as nursery habitat. Postlarvae prefer nutrient-rich and somewhat
muddy waters of tidal creeks and channels. Juveniles are found more
often over muddy bottoms in estuaries. Adults are usually common
over sand or sand/mud bottom types in shallow coastal and estuarine
waters, especially in high runoff areas, oyster reefs and shell
hash (Pearson 1929).
Adults sometimes move
onto near-shelf waters, but are primarily estuarine-dwelling and
show little migratory behavior. Simmons and Breuer (1962) reported
that tagged black drum in Texas generally moved less than 5 miles
from where they were tagged. Beaumarriage (1969) reported similar
results in Florida black drum.
Osburn and Matlock (1984) examined movements
of black drum in Texas, reporting that black drum less than 3 years
of age showed limited movement from bay systems into the Gulf of
Mexico. Older fishes were more commonly taken in deeper waters of
the Gulf, leading the authors to hypothesize that permanent movement
of black drum to deeper gulf waters occurs in fishes older than
4 years of age; with bays and estuaries thus supplying young fishes
to spawning stocks of older fishes.
VI. SPECIAL STATUS
Limited commercial and recreational value.
Black drum are not an important
commercial species in Florida, but are considered important recreationally.
Between 1987 - 2001, the total commercial harvest of Pogonias
cromis in Florida totaled 1.6 million pounds, and was valued
at $679,928. Approximately 69.7% of black drum landings occurred
on Florida's west coast. East coast landings totaled approximately
484,600 pounds,and were valued at $290,466. Of this, the 5 county
area encompassing the IRL (Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie
and Martin Counties) accounted for 94% of east coast landings (272,514
pounds), and was valued at $131,995. This ranks the black drum sixty-ninth
in commercial value and fifty-ninth in pounds harvested.
Figure 1 below shows the
dollar value of the black drum commercial fishery to IRL counties
by year. The fishery ranged in value from a high of $27,414 in 1988,
to a low of $2,924 the following year. Volusia County accounted
for 49.2% of the catch, followed distantly by Brevard (21.2%), Martin
(14.3%), St. Lucie (12.0%) and Indian River (3.3%) Counties. Of
note is the decrease in commercial catch, especially in Volusia
and Martin Counties after the 1995 ban on gill-netting was implemented.
Figure 1. Annual dollar
value of the commercial catch of black drum to the 5-county area
of the Indian River Lagoon.
2. Total black drum dollar value and percentage by county
for the years 1987 - 2001.
Table 1. Total dollar value
of IRL black drum, Pogonias cromis, between 1987 - 2001.
Table 2. By-county annual and cumulative percentages of the
black drum harvest for the years 1987-2001.
Table 3. By-county cumulative dollar value and percentage
of total for the black drum harvest from 1987 - 2001.
The black drum, especially at larger size, is not generally considered
a high-quality food fish due to commonly being infested with cestodes
(spaghetti worms) (Simmons and Breuer 1962; Etzolt and Christmas
1979). However, black drum measuring less than 20 inches are valued
in the recreational fishery (Silverman 1979).
landings of black drum are significantly larger than commercial
landings in all states within their range. For example, in 2003,
757,867 pounds of black drum were landed in Florida by commercial
and recreational interests. Of the total harvest, 98% of landings
were made by recreational anglers rather than by commercial fishers,
with 72% of landings occurring on the Atlantic coast.
Within the 5-county area
of the Indian River Lagoon, black drum are regularly taken, but
are not especially prized. Based on angler survey data, recreational
anglers captured 926,545 black drum between 1997 - 2004 (Table 4,
Figure 3), not including those fishes that were caught and released.
The bulk of the recreational catch (43.6%) was taken within inland
waters other than the Indian River Lagoon. Approximately 36.2% of
the recreational catch is harvested from nearshore waters up to
3 miles offshore. Anglers fishing in the Indian River Lagoon took
approximately 19.6% of the harvest, while those fishing up to 200
miles offshore accounted for only 0.6% of the total.
As of 2005, Fishing regulations
in Florida state that black drum must be no less than 14 inches
TL, but not more than 24 inches TL to be of legal size; however,
one black drum larger than 24 inches TL may be kept. A bag limit
of 5 legal-sized black drum per person per day is in effect.
Figure 3. Survey data for the black drum recreational fishery
showing the number of fishes harvested in East Florida waters from
1997 - 2004.
Figure 4. Summary of the black drum recreational harvest and
percentage of total by area from 1997 - 2004.
Table 4. Summary
data for recreational fishery in Eastern Florida waters for the
black drum, Pogonias cromis, from 1997 - 2004.
Data provided by National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics
Table 5. By-county annual
and cumulative percentages of the black drum harvest for the years
1997 - 2001. Data
provided by National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics
Table 6. Summary of the black drum recreational harvest and
percentage of total fish captured in each area from 1997 - 2004.
Data provided by National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics
Beaumariage, D. S. 1969. Returns from the
1965 Schlitz tagging program including a cumulative analysis of
previous results. Technical Series 59, Florida State Board of Conservation,
St. Petersburg, Florida.
Beckman, D.W., A.L. Stanley, J.H. Render and
C.A. Wilson, 1990 Age and growth of black drum in Louisiana waters
of the Gulf of Mexico. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 119(3):537-544.
Benson, N. G., ed. 1982. Life history requirements
of selected finfish and shellfish of Mississippi Sound and adjacent
areas. U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv. Biol. Serv. Program FWS/O35-81/15.
Cody, T. J., K. W. Rice, and C. E. Bryan.
1985. Distribution and gonadal development of black drum in Texas
Gulf waters. Tex. Pks. Wildl. Dep., Coast Fish. Branch, Manage.
Data Ser. No. 72. 16 PP.
Etzold, D. J., and J. Y. Christmas, eds. 1979.
A Mississippi marine finfish management plan. Mississippi-Alabama
Sea Grant Consortium. MASGP-78-146. 36 pp.
Fitzhugh, G.R., B.A. Thompson and T.G. Snider
III, 1993 Ovarian development, fecundity, and spawning frequency
of black drum Pogonias cromis in Louisiana. Fish. Bull.,
Gunter, G. 1956. A revised list of euryhaline
fishes of North and Middle America. Am. Midl. Nat. 56(2):345-354.
Hoese, H. D. 1965. Spawning of marine fishes
in the Port Aransas, Texas area as determined by the distribution
of young larvae. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Texas, Austin.
International Game Fish Association, 2001
Database of IGFA angling records until 2001. IGFA, Fort Lauderdale,
Joseph, E. B., W. H. Massmann, and J. J. Norcross.
1964. The pelagic eggs and early larval states of the black drum
from Chesapeake Bay. Copeia 1964(2):425-434.
Johnson, G.D., 1978 Development of fishes
of the Mid-Atlantic Bight. An atlas of egg, larval and juvenile
stages. Vol. 4. Carangidae through Ephippidae. US Fish Wildl. Serv.
Biol. Serv. Prog. FWS/OBS-78/12.
Leard, R., and ten co-authors. 1993. The black
drum fishery of the Gulf of Mexico, United States: a regional management
plan. Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, Number 28, Ocean
McIlwain, T. D. 1978. An analysis of recreational
angling in Biloxi Bay - 1972-1974. Ph.D. Dissertation. University
of Southern Mississippi. Hattiesburg. 156 pp.
Miles, 0. W. 1949. A study of the food habits
of the fishes of Aransas Bay area. Tex. Game Fish Oyster Comm.,
Mar. Lab. Annu. Rep. 1948-1949; 126-169.
Murphy, M.D.; Adams, D.H.; Tremain, D.M.;
Winner, B.L. 1998. Direct validation of ages determined for adult
black drum, Pogonias cromis, in east-central Florida with
notes on black drum migration. Fish. Bull. (US) 96(2): 382-387.
Murphy, M.D.; Taylor, R.G. 1989. Reproduction
and growth of black drum, Pogonias cromis, in Northeast
Florida. Northeast Gulf Sci. 10(2): 127-137.
Murphy, M.D.; Muller, R.G. 1995. stock assessment
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Report Series IHR 1995-005.
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drum movement in Texas bays. N. Am. J. Fish. Manage. 4:523-530.
Peters, K.M.; McMichael, R.H., Jr. 1990. Early
life history of the black drum Pogonias cromis (Pisces:
Sciaenidae) in Tampa Bay, Florida. Northeast Gulf Sci. 11(1):39-58.
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of the black drum (Pogonias cromis). Trans. Am. Fish. Soc.
Ross, J. F., J. S. Pavela, and M. E. Chittenden,
Jr. 1983. Seasonal occurrence of black drum, Pogonias cromis,
and red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus, off Texas. Northeast
Gulf Sci. 6(1):67-70.
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data on black drum, Pogonias cromis (Linnaeus). Northeast
Fish. Nt. Sandy Hook Lab. Tech. Ser. Rep. 22. 35 Pp.
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study of redfish, Sciaenops ocellata Linnaeus, and black
drum, Pogonias cromis Linnaeus. Publ. Inst. Mar. Univ.
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Engineers, TR EL-82-4.
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Page last updated: October 12, 2005