Date of Award

Summer 1991

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Ray S. Birdsong

Committee Member

Cynthia M. Jones

Committee Member

Raymond W. Alden

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 B62


The black drum, Pogonias cromis, is of great economic importance to the communities of the lower Eastern Shore of Virginia. Fish are sought both commercially and recreationally during their yearly spring spawning run. Although the number of fish caught each year does not rival other exploited species, it is a directed fishery that partially supports many local fishermen, seafood distributors, marinas, motel owners, and restauranteurs.

Black drum were collected during the fall of 1989 and the spring of 1990 to investigate the population dynamics of fish found in Virginia's Chesapeake Bay and surrounding coastal waters. A total of 235 fish was examined for estimation and description of age, growth, mortality, and reproduction.

Observed total lengths for black drum ranged from 229 to 1300 mm. Ages were obtained from otolith sections, with fish ranging in age from 0 to 57 years. Male and female fish did not differ significantly in either size or age composition. Growth was described by the von Bertalanffy growth equation Lt_1186mm {1-e (0.0961 (AGE +3.0964))}.

Black drum exhibited total spawning, which took place during the early spring from late April to May. All fish collected during the spring were mature adults. Total fecundity estimates ranged from 5.57*106 to 2.66 * 107 eggs per female.


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