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Discovery of Sound in the Sea
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Spotted Seatrout
(Cynoscion nebulosus)
Spotted Seatrout
Spotted Seatrout illustration. Copyright Diane Rome Peebles
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Sound courtesy of James Locascio and David Mann, University of South Florida College of Marine Science. Released under Creative Commons License, non-commercial attribution.
Description
The spotted seatrout ranges from Massachusetts to the Yucatan Peninsula, primarily inhabiting estuaries, lagoons, and inshore waters. This species tolerates a wide range of salinities and is often closely associated with seagrass beds which offer abundant foraging opportunity and shelter for adults and early juveniles alike. Research indicates this species does not travel far from its natal environment for the duration of its life. Movement may occur due to seasonal changes in water temperature where individuals will seek deeper inshore waters with more stable temperatures during the colder months. Maturity is reached by 2-4 years and a maximum age of 18 years has been reported, although fish over 10 years are rare. Females typically grow faster and are larger than males of the same age. Spawning occurs during April through September in estuaries and bays.

Mature male spotted seatrout produce four distinctive sound types associated with courtship and spawning behavior including: dual pulse, multiple pulse, long grunt, and staccato. These sounds are produced by the sonic muscle - swim bladder mechanism. Spawning aggregations of spotted seatrout begin calling an hour or two before sunset and continue for several hours after nightfall. The dual pulse is the most common sound type. Other sound types can be heard two to three hours after sunset during peak hours of sound production.