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Sea Life, Animals
& Exhibits

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Black Drum

The black drum gets their common name from a large and elaborate swim bladder, that has special muscles that can vibrate to produce the croaking or drumming sounds. There have been reports of hearing the sounds from large schools passing by fishing boats. You can also hear them in our tank when the building is quiet and something excites or frightens them. On their chin they have 5 pores and around 10-13 barbels that they use to detect prey that is buried in the sand. They use electroreceptors on their chin to locate the prey. They are often black and/or gray in color with juvenile fish having distinctive dark stripes over a gray body.


Black drum are usually found on the Atlantic Coasts through the Gulf of Mexico. The young drums are typically found in brackish water, while the mature adults are found saltier water closer to the ocean. They prefer to be on sand and mud flats mainly in inshore waters and estuaries.


Young drums feed on maritime worms, small shrimp, and crabs and small fish. Larger drum eat small crabs, worms, algae, small fish and mollusks. Barbels (or whiskers) are used to find food by feel and smell. Drum often dig or root out buried mollusks and worms while feeding in a head-down position. This process is called “tailing” and creates small craters in the bottom which anglers call “drum noodles.” Experienced anglers can detect the recent passage of a school of drum by the presence of many “noodles.” The black drums have highly developed pharyngeal teeth which are used to crush mollusks and crabs before swallowing.


Drum mating season occurs from April to early June. A mature drum can carry over 30 million eggs. After mating drum will spread and migrate south for the fall.


Juvenile black drum are preyed upon by a variety of large fishes while adults are preyed upon by sharks.