Scup (Stenotomus chrysops)
Alternate common name: Porgy.
Color: Silvery gray fish with faint, irregular, dark bars and pale blue flecks on its sides.
Size: 4 to 10 inches long.
Habitat: Smooth sand and rocky bottoms, open water.
Seasonal appearance: May to October.
The scup is a medium-sized fish with a deep, vertically compressed body. Its scales are iridescent, often reflecting the colors of the rainbow. Scup have small mouths with strong jaws and pointed teeth used to crush small mollusk shells. Its dorsal fin is composed of sharp spines that make up more than half the entire fin length.
Life History and Behavior
Scup are a migratory species of fish that travel in schools of similar-sized fish. They are sensitive to cold water temperatures and will move offshore into deeper waters during the winter. If caught in shallow waters when a cold snap hits, scup will often die. During the summer months, they tend to gather near the coastline and are never found more than a few miles offshore.
Scup are bottom feeders, often gathering near rocks and submerged pilings to feed on barnacles, mollusks, worms, and other invertebrates.
Adapted from The Uncommon Guide to Common Life on Narragansett Bay. Save The Bay, 1998.