Creatures of the South Louisiana Estuary:
The Red Drum
Before you get the wrong idea, I am not a musical instrument that you can beat with sticks. Actually, I am a redfish, and you can call me P. Rouge. That’s short for poisson rouge, which is bayou French for red fish.
Down here in the estuary of south Louisiana, there are deep ponds in the marshes. That is one of the places I like to hang out, now that I’m almost grown up. I haven’t always hung out here, though.
My mother redfish laid millions of eggs out near the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. It only took about a day for me to hatch into a larva. Then I took a fun ride on the current into the shallow waters of the estuary. There I found safe spot with a grassy bottom to hide me from bigger sea creatures.
It took me about three weeks to grow one inch, while I hid in the grass and ate every plankton that swam past me. Now that I am about two years old and about two feet long, I eat bigger things, like small crabs, oysters, and shrimp. (Sh! Don’t tell Beau, Meau, or Shev!). Most of the time, I suck them in near the water bottom and grind the shells with these cool teeth I have in the back of my throat.
Once upon a time, humans could catch us by the gills using nets, but not any more. I do have to be careful of funny-looking plastic baits, because they belong to the sport fishermen who would like to take me home and have me for dinner. I’m too smart to get caught, though.
When I grow to about three feet long, I will find my way back out through the bays of the estuary and back into the deeper water of the Gulf of Mexico. That is where I will eat and grow to an adult, and then I can return to the edge of the Gulf to lay my millions of eggs just like my mother did.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep exploring all the exciting places in the estuary.
If you’re even down my way, look for my back fin sticking up out of the water. I like to cruise the banks, so if you happen to see a fish the color of bronze with a big black dot on its tail, say hello, because it might be me!