The sciaenids are a large family of primarily bottom associated, carnivorous fishes distributed throughout the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, in tropical and temperate inshore waters. The majority occur on open sand and mud bottoms and some are found only in brackish waters. The exact number of species is uncertain, but there are probably about 270, of which there is a limited number in the Mediterranean Sea.

Drums are also commonly called croakers, and for good reason. They have modified muscular swim bladders that they use to produce a drumming or croaking sound when they are excited. Drums are luminescent and appear pink when first removed from the water. A drum’s tail is slightly pointed, and it has faint stripes across its back and small chin barbels.

Drums or croakers are distributed mostly in temperate and tropical waters. They are principally bottom dwelling carnivores, feeding on benthic invertebrates and small fishes

The largest drum in the region is the Meagre (Argyrosomus regius) which has a maximum recorded length 230cm and weight in the region of 100 kg. However, expect only to see somewhat smaller examples. It is distributed in the eastern Atlantic from Norway to South of Gibraltar and the Congo, as well as the Mediterrannean and Black Seas. It has also migrated to the Red Sea via the Suez Canal.

A bony fish with a very rounded and a flat underside, the ventral and anal fins are black, with a white margin and have thorny rays. The body is dark brown with a silvery effect. It prefers inshore and shelf waters, close to the bottom but will be found near the surface and in midwater when pursuing shoals of clupeids (e.g. sardines) and mugilids (e.g. mullet). It also feeds on swimming crustaceans.

The species that you are most likely to see in the Mediterranean are listed below, with the maximum adult length:

  • Brown Meagre Sciaena umbra 70 cm
  • Canary Drum Umbrina canariensis 80 cm
  • Fusca Drum Umbrina ronchus 100 cm
  • Meagre Argyrosomus regius 230 cm
  • Shi drum Umbrina cirrosa 73 cm