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Alabama Shad

ALABAMA SHAD

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Alosa alabamae

CHARACTERISTICS: The Alabama shad is an elongate, silvery fish with 55 to 60 scales in the lateral series. The dorsal fin has 15 to 17 rays; the anal fin has 18 to 19 rays. The back of a live Alabama shad is greenish blue; the rest of the body is silvery. Fins are generally clear. The dorsal and caudal fins have a slightly darker margin. See Evermann (1896) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 12 to 18 in (300 to 460 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: In the past, Alabama shad inhabited most Gulf Coast drainages from the Mississippi River east to the Suwannee River in Florida. During the last 20 years, inland distribution and abundance have greatly declined due to the construction of dams, which block annual spawning runs, and to water pollution and habitat alteration. The largest remaining population is in the Apalachicola River system below Jim Woodruff Dam. Each year, shad still enter the Choctawhatchee and Conecuh river systems in southeastern Alabama to spawn. Recent Mobile basin records are limited to collections of single adults in the Alabama River below Claiborne (1993) and Millers Ferry (1995) locks and dams.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The Alabama shad is the only anadromous clupeid species in Alabama. Adults live in salt water but migrate upstream into free-flowing rivers to spawn. The authors’ ongoing studies indicate that shad arrive in the Alabama reach of the Choctawhatchee and Conecuh rivers in March. Adults spawn in April, when water temperatures reach 65º to 68ºF (18º to 20ºC), and migrate downstream shortly thereafter. Actual spawning has not been observed, but it probably occurs in open, flowing water over sand bars in the late afternoon or at night. Readings of otoliths from specimens collected in 1994 and 1995 indicate that male Alabama shad were one to four years old. Females were two to six years old, two years older than reported by Laurence and Yerger (1967) and three years older than determined by Mills (1972) using scale readings.

REMARKS: The type locality of the Alabama shad is the Black Warrior River at Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County. Ironically, the four specimens used for the scientific description of this species are the only known records from this river system.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Jordan and Evermann described the Alabama shad 1896.

ETYMOLOGY:
Alosa means shad.
Alabamae means from Alabama.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division protects this fish from capture or possession.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.


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