Bermuda Chub: A Fascinating Fish with a Confusing Name
The Bermuda chub (Kyphosus sectatrix) is a species of marine ray-finned fish that belongs to the family Kyphosidae, also known as sea chubs. Despite its name, this fish is not endemic to Bermuda, but has a wide distribution in tropical and subtropical coastal waters worldwide. It is also known by various other common names, such as Pacific drummer, beaked chub, grey drummer, Pacific chub or white chub.
The Bermuda chub has an oval-shaped body that is almost circular when viewed from the side. It has a small mouth that opens at the front and a head that slopes from over the eye to the snout, giving it a beaked appearance. The color of this fish can vary, but it is usually greenish to bronze on the back, fading to pale grey on the sides and silvery on the belly. It has faint gold horizontal lines on the body and sometimes a white or silvery streak on the cheek below the eye. The dorsal and anal fins are dusky and the tail fin is slightly forked. The scales are often edged with blue. Some individuals may have white spots or blotches on the body and fins, or even be bright yellow with black patches.
The Bermuda chub can grow up to 76 cm (30 in) in length and weigh up to 6 kg (13 lb), but more commonly reaches around 50 cm (20 in) and 2-5 kg (4-11 lb). It is a schooling fish that swims quickly and often forms large aggregations around reefs, wrecks, harbors and other structures. It feeds mainly on algae and small invertebrates, such as crabs and mollusks, that it scrapes off the bottom with its teeth.
The Bermuda chub has a complex and confusing taxonomic history that dates back to Linnaeus’s naming of the species in 1758. It was originally described as Perca sectatrix, but later moved to the genus Kyphosus. However, there are still debates about whether this species is distinct from other closely related sea chubs, such as Kyphosus incisor (the yellow chub) and Kyphosus bigibbus (the silver drummer). Some studies suggest that these three species are actually one variable species with different color morphs, while others argue that they are separate species with overlapping ranges and hybridization.
The Bermuda chub is not a popular target for anglers, as it is considered to have a strong smell and taste. However, some people enjoy eating it after proper cleaning and preparation. It can be cooked in various ways, such as grilled, fried or baked. It is also used as bait for larger fish, such as sharks and barracudas.
The Bermuda chub is not threatened by overfishing or habitat loss, and is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, it may face some threats from pollution, climate change and invasive species that may affect its food sources or compete with it for space.
The Bermuda chub is a fascinating fish with a confusing name that deserves more attention and appreciation for its role in the marine ecosystem.