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Tautog Tautoga onitis


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credit: NOAA

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Family: Labridae, Wrasses view all from this family

Description The tautog or blackfish (tŁ'tŁg', -tŏg', tŁ-tŁg', -tŏg'), Tautoga onitis, is a fish of the wrasse family found in salt water from Nova Scotia to Georgia. It lives along the bottom, in and amongst rocks, wrecks, mussel beds, bridge pilings or other bottom features.

Barlett (1848) wrote " is an Indian word, and may be found in Roger Williams' Key to the Indian Language." The name is from the Narragansett language, originally tautauog (pl. of taut). It is also called a "black porgy" (cf. Japanese black porgy), "chub" (cf. the freshwater chub) , "oyster-fish" (in North Carolina) or "blackfish" (in New York/New Jersey, New England).

Tautog are brown and dark olive, with white blotches, and have plump elongated bodies. They have an average weight of 1 to 3 lb (0.45 to 1.4 kg) and reach a maximum size of 3 ft (0.91 m), 25 pounds (11 kg).

Tautog have many adaptations to life in and around rocky areas. They have thick rubbery lips and powerful jaws. The backs of their throats contain a set of teeth resembling molars. Together these are used to pick and crush prey such as mollusks and crustaceans. Their skin also has a rubbery quality with a heavy slime covering, which helps to protect them when swimming among rocks.

Dimensions Up to 3' (91 cm); 21 1/2 lbs (9.8 kg).

Habitat Ocean or bay shallows, Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Tidepools.

Range New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Eastern Canada.