Oyster Toadfish

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Oyster Toadfish: Photo by Flying Cat Studios on Flickr. on Flickr.

Source: Sounds of the Western North Atlantic Fishes by Fish & Mowbray, 1970, University of Rhode Island, 2001

The Opsanus Tau is related to the Midshipman under the family Batrachoididae (toad-like fish) and inhabit the same type of inner tidal areas. They also breathe air out of water and given the habitat and the structure of the pectoral fins they likely have some kinship to the various fishes that made their way out of water and on to land some 200 million years ago.

Their characteristic “boat whistle” is produced by oscillating muscles around the swim bladder, which they use as a resonator. These muscles are one of the fastest vertebrate muscles.

Latin Name:
Opsanus tau
Ugly toad, Oyster cracker, Bar dog, Dowdy
avg. 30 cm (12”) max 38 cm (15”)
Max 580g (1.3 lbs)
Both males and females mature in their second year and live to approximately 8 and 5 years, respectively.
Physical Traits:
yellowish with a pattern of brown bars, camouflage patterns
males build nests of debris and then signals to females with a “boat-whistle” call, after female lays the eggs the male then protects the nest and cares for the eggs, hunts by using it’s camouflage and surprise attacks
bottom dweller, shallow water among rocky substrate and any debris for shelter, can survive very bad conditions
from Maine to the Caribbean Sea
crustaceans, mollusks, amphipods, squid, and other smaller fish
Sharks, rays
Wikipedia: Oyster Toadfish
Discovery of Sound in the Sea: Oyster Toadfish
FishBase.org: Oyster Toadfish Species Summary
Chesapeake Bay Program: Oyster Toadfish
Discovery Channel Canada: The One That Didn’t Get Away
 – The fish video is the 4th video on the page.
Rhode Island Restoration Portal: Oyster Toadfish

Amorim, M.C.P., McCracken, M.L. and Fine, M.L. 2002. Metabolic costs of sound production in the oyster toadfish, Opsanus tau. Canadian Journal of Zoology 80:830-838.Fish, M.P. and Mowbray, H.M. 1970. Sounds of Western North Atlantic Fishes. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press. pg. 192-193.

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