The Black Drum ranges from the Atlantic coasts of New England all the way to Mexico. The highest number of Black Drum are found in the Gulf of Mexico. The most abundant areas for Black Drum on the Atlantic coast are south of the Chesapeake Bay. On the Gulf Coast, the most abundant areas for this species are on the lower coast of Texas. (Texas Parks and Wildlife 2000)
Black Drum adults are generally found in areas with sandy or soft bottom. This species also stays in close proximity to oyster beds and clam shell beds.
During the colder months, the Black Drum go from the shallow areas to deeper bays. Extreme drops in water temperature have been known to wipe out many Drum at once. The Drum are most common in water temperatures ranging from 12-32 degrees Celsius. (Virginia Tech Database 1996)
- Aquatic Biomes
Black Drum have oblong bodies with short heads. Their snouts are rather blunt. The scales and dorsal fins of the Black Drum are extremely firm. They also have cobblestone-like teeth. On the bottom of their mouth, Black Drum have between 10-15 barbels (whiskers) that are used for seeking out food. After 2 years, adult Black Drum weigh around 1.3 kilograms, while older Drum can weigh up to 37 kilograms.
The coloration of the Black Drum varies with age and environment. Younger Black Drum generally have vertical black bars running along their body. Black Drum bodies are usually black or dark gray if the Drums are living in sandy or murky water. They appear lighter in fishes that live in the Gulf of Mexico. Older Drum are generally white bellied, but coloration varies greatly within this species. (Virginia Tech Database 1996)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- sexes alike
- Range mass
- 1 to 37 kg
- 2.20 to 81.50 lb
Black Drum spawn in many different areas. They can spawn in bays, the Gulf, or estuaries and river systems when temperatures begin to rise in March and April. To make their presence known to females, male Black Drum make deep drumming noises. Females only respond on certain nights when their ovaries are filled with eggs. When the female does acknowledge the male's presence, the two engage in what is known as a mating chase. During this chase, males bump the sides of the female that causes the release of the female's eggs. This causes a cloud as the male's sperm and the female's eggs mix. The eggs hatch within 24 hours. Black Drum reach sexual maturity after 2 years. (Virginia Tech Database 1996)
- Average lifespan
- 43 years
- Average lifespan
Black Drum spend most of their time at the bottom searching for food such as crabs and mollusks. They also are frequently found around piers searching for food.
During the months of January and February, Black Drum school and participate in what is called the "Drum Run." This occurs about a month before the major spawning activity begins. The Drum come to shallow water and roam throughout the oyster shell beds in large groups. This period each year is when the fisherman most actively pursue the species.
The most interesting part of the Black Drum's behavior is the drumming sound that they make. They make this drumming sound using muscles in their swim bladder. (Virginia Tech Database 1996)
Communication and Perception
Black Drum larvae feed strictly on zooplankton. Young Black Drum feed on soft crustaceans, small fish, and marine annelids. Adult Black Drum feed mainly on crabs, small fish, and shrimp. They can crush hard animals such as crabs due to their tooth specialization. The teeth are designed to crush with their cobblestone-like design. (Virginia Tech Database 1996)
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
The Black Drum is valuable as a delicacy along the Gulf coast from Texas to Mississippi. It has recreational and moderate commercial importance along the Gulf of Mexico. The Black Drum is considered to be one of the best tasting Gulf fishes. The only drawback is that fish larger than 50 centimeters are not good to eat because they tend to contain Spaghetti Worms. So, fish smaller than 50 centimeters are the only ones that are harvested with regularity. (Texas Parks and Wildlife 2000, Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources 1999)
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
The oyster industry suffers losses due to Black Drum predation (Beaulne and Ramcharan 2001)
Presently, there are no conservation efforts being made for the Black Drum.
The Black Drum has no other competition for its food sources other than the Red Drum. The Black Drum feeds on hard- shelled animals such as crab, while most other marine animals cannot break the crab's shell. Due to the Black Drum's specialized teeth designed to be able to crack the shells, the Black Drum does not have to worry about other species invading its niche. (Virginia Tech Database 1996)
Chris Peterson (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
- Atlantic Ocean
the body of water between Africa, Europe, the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), and the western hemisphere. It is the second largest ocean in the world after the Pacific Ocean.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
uses touch to communicate
Beaulne, M., C. Ramcharan. 2001. "Coastal Food Webs: Novel methods to deter black drum predation on oyster leases" (On-line). Accessed 9 July 2001 at http://www.biology.lsu.edu/webfac/cramcharan/oyster2.html.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 1999. "Black Drum" (On-line). Accessed March 12, 2001 at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/education/blackdrum/blackdrum.html.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 2000. "Texas Parks and Wildlife: Black Drum in Texas" (On-line). Accessed March 9, 2001 at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fish/specinfo/blkdrum/blkdrum.htm.
Virigina Tech: Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996. "Black Drum" (On-line). Accessed March 2, 2001 at http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/WWW/macsis/lists/M010025.htm.