Sand Seatrout, Cynoscion arenarius
The Sand Seatrout, Cynoscion arenarius, whose common Spanish name is corvina arenera, is a species in the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatas and corvinas in Mexico. This fish is also known as the White Trout. Globally, there are 24 species in the genus Cynoscion, of which 13 are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and ten in the Pacific.
The Sand Seatrouts have elongated compressed bodies. They are silvery gray dorsally and transition to silvery ventrally. Their anal and pelvic fins are pale to yellowish and their caudal and second dorsal fins have subtle spotting. There is a faint dark area at the base of their pectoral fins and the inside of their gill covers is dark. They have a large oblique mouth with a projecting lower jaw equipped with a pair of large canine teeth in the front and a row of widely spaced teeth. They have no barbels. Their anal fin has two spines and 10 to 12 rays; their caudal fin is doubly concave; their first dorsal fin has 9 or 10 spines; their second dorsal fin has one spine and 25 to 29 rays; and their pectoral fins are slightly longer than their pelvic fins. They have 12 to 14 gill rakers. Their lateral line is arched anteriorly then becomes straight and extends into the center of the caudal fin. They are covered with rough scales.
The Sand Seatrouts are found demersal within shallow coastal waters, including the surf zone, and over sandy bottoms at depths up to 580 feet. They reach a maximum length of 63.5 cm (25 inches) and weight of 2.8 kg (6.2 pounds). They are known to make seasonal migrations for spawning and to escape hot water and will enter estuaries during the summer months for pupping and feeding. They consume fish and crustaceans. Reproduction is oviparous with eggs released offshore in areas where tidal currents will move them inshore. They have a lifespan of up to six years.
In Mexican waters the Sand Seatrouts are found in all waters of the Atlantic.
The Sand Seatrout can be easily confused with the Silver Seatrout (smaller; found in deeper waters; coloration more silvery).
The Sand Seatrouts are an important sport and commercial fish in certain regions of Mexico with fish caught primarily by hook and line and by gill nets. They are also caught by recreational anglers and considered good table fare. From a conservation perspective they are currently considered of Least Concern, being common and found over a wide range with stable populations. They are, however, heavily fished in coastal waters from Tamaulipas to Yucatán on the northern coast of Mexico with annual catches estimated at 2,000 tons sold for approximately one million United States dollars per annum. They are also affected by habitat degradation, coastal development, and shrimp trawler by-catch, which increase juvenile mortality.
Sand Seatrout, Cynoscion arenarius. Fish caught from coastal waters off Sanibel Island, FL, April, 2011. Length 23.0 cm (9.0 inches). Catch, photo, and identification courtesy of Kenneth Tse, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.