Urophycis chuss Walbaum, 1792, Artedi.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Squirrel hake.
Single anal fin. Two dorsal fins, the first short based and moderate in height, with one elongate ray. A single chin barbel. Pelvic fin comprised of two very elongate rays, tip of the longest reaching level of anus. Upper limb of gill raker with three gill rakers; caudal fin with 28–34 rays.
Western North Atlantic Ocean from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to Nova Scotia, rarely to Gulf of St. Lawrence. Two stocks occur off the northeastern United States: a northern stock from the northern slopes of Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine, and a southern stock, from the southern slopes of Georges Bank to North Carolina.
Found on muddy or sandy bottoms, less common on gravelly or hard bottoms. Adults found between 16.4 and >984 ft (5 and >300 m), but some seasonal migrations take place. Early settled juveniles live in an inquiline association with sea scallops, Placopecten magellanicus, or other structured habitats, after which they remain in relatively shallow coastal waters until their second year. Thereafter, they are most common in depths <328 ft (100 m) in warmer months, >328 ft (100 m) in colder months.
Red hake migrate seasonally in reaction to changing temperatures. During summer, they are quite common in nearshore bays and estuaries in New England. During the winter, they migrate into deeper waters.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Hakes use their pelvic fin rays as sensory organs to find food (Bardach and Case 1965). Juveniles leave their shelters at night and prey on small benthic organisms such as crustaceans. Adults also prey on crustaceans, but consume a wide variety of fish and squid as well.
Spawning occurs spring through fall off the coast of northeastern United States, but may be restricted to mid-summer in the Gulf of Maine. Eggs and larvae develop pelagically, and the larvae transform into a specialized pelagic–juvenile stage that is highly neustonic (lives very near the surface), often gathering around floating debris. They settle to the bottom at sizes of 1.4–1.6 in (35–40 mm).
Not listed by the IUCN. During the early 1960s, total landings from both stocks (northern and southern) peaked at 125,220 tn (113,600 t) in 1966. Annual landings then declined sharply to only 14,220 tn (12,900 t) in 1970, increased again to 84,220 tn (76,400 t) in 1972, and then have declined steadily since. Red hake landings averaged only 1,870 tn (1,700 t) per year during 1990–1999, a decline of over 40% from the 1980–1989 average. Red hake landings in 1999 were well below historic levels. Despite these declines, neither stock is presently considered to be in an overfished condition, and recruitment of younger fish appears to be strong.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
A variable constituent of the United States and Canadian trawl fisheries. Large fish marketed fresh or frozen, and small fishes sometimes sold for animal feeds.
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