Sand Drum

Sand Drum, Umbrina coroides

The Sand Drum, Umbrina coroides, whose common Spanish name is berrugata arenera, is a species in the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatas and corvinas in Mexico. Globally, there are 18 species in the genus Umbrina, of which seven are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and six in the Pacific.

The Sand Drums have moderately compressed, moderately elongated, and oblong bodies. They are silvery gray dorsally and lighter ventrally. They have a series of nine or ten dark bars on their sides with dotted wavy lines along their scale rows; the line under their dorsal fin is oblique. They have yellow fins and the upper half of their caudal and dorsal fins is dusky. The inside of their gill chamber is dark. They have a high back that is arched at the nape. Their head is low and broad with a conical projecting snout, a small horizontal mouth, one thick barbel at the tip of the chin, and two pairs of pores. Their gill covers are finely serrated. Their anal fin has a short base with two spines and six rays; the second spine is greater than two-thirds the length of the first ray. Their caudal fin has a straight margin. Their dorsal fin is deeply notched with 10 slender spines followed by another spine and 26 to 31 rays. Their second dorsal fin has a long base. They have 13 to 15 gill rakers and are covered with rough scales.

The Sand Drums are found demersal over sandy bottoms in shallow coastal areas at depths up to 80 feet primarily in the surf zone along sandy beaches with clear water. They reach a maximum length of 35 cm (14 inches). They can occasionally be found in estuaries over muddy bottoms and within coral reefs. They consume small bottom-dwelling crustaceans exposed by wave action. They are a poorly studied species and little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Sand Drums are found in all waters of the Atlantic.

The Sand Drum can be confused with the Black Drum, Pogonias cromis (dark fins), the Red Drum, Sciaenops ocellatus (copper color; one large tail spot), and the Spot, Leiostomus xanthurus (numerous small stripes; prominent dark spot just behind gill covers).

The Sand Drums are caught primarily with cast nets, seines or traps and as a by-catch of other fisheries. Larger fish are sold commercially and smaller fish are used as bait. From a conservation perspective they are considered of Least Concern being common with a wide distribution.

Sand Drum, Umbrina coroides. Fish caught off the Juno Beach Pier in West Palm Beach, Florida, February 2017. Length: 28 cm (11 inches). Catch, photo, and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.