Striped Mullet

FISH PROFILE

COMMON NAME

Striped Mullet

Scientific name

Mugil cephalus

FAMILY

Mugilidae family

LENGTH

12-20 inches

DIET

Decaying plant material,
inorganic particles, and algae

FISH PROFILE

COMMON NAME

Striped Mullet

Scientific name

Mugil cephalus

FAMILY

Mugilidae family

LENGTH

12-20 inches

DIET

Decaying plant material,
inorganic particles, and algae

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS

The striped mullet, also known as “jumping mullet”, has two widely spaced dorsal fins and a large eye parallel with their mouths. They also have many thin horizontal stripes along their side. A similar species that can be seen in the springs is the white mullet, also known as “silver mullet.” White mullets are easily confused with striped mullet but tend to be smaller, shiny silver in color, lack stripes, and have a dusky black edge to their tails.

RANGE, HABITAT, BEHAVIOR, AND dIET

These typically saltwater and estuarine fish can be found in warm coastal seas worldwide; the two species most common in Florida (Striped and White) are common in the western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Brazil. Mullet are often seen jumping out of the water and feeding on the bottom. The striped mullet diet consists of algae, detritus, and other tiny marine and freshwater life. Mullet can also be seen picking up mud off the bottom, which they filter with their gill rakers and inner teeth, and spitting it back out. They are common worldwide in warm waters and can tolerate a large range of salinity, so you may see them in salt water as well as in the springs.

FUN FACTS

The mullet that you see in a freshwater spring has traveled at least once from the coast. Adult mullet migrate to saltwater spawning grounds in the fall and winter, and the resulting eggs hatch there. As mullet grow they may move into various habitats including freshwater rivers, saltmarshes, estuaries, the open sea – and freshwater springs. As adults, those that traveled into rivers and springs will migrate back to salt water to spawn.

Mullet are known for leaping out of the water. In fact, another name for striped mullet is “leaping mullet.” Though it is not known why they do this, there is some evidence that they do this more frequently in oxygen-poor water, which supports the theory that it is done to clear their gills and give them an oxygen boost.

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