enowned by anglers or theirwariness and ghting spirit,boneish are stealthy andspeedy residents o the shallowbays and backcountry o southFlorida. Although they are notusually consumed by people, bonesh are a majortarget o sport anglers, especially in the FloridaKeys, where bonesh are a pillar o the recreationalshing industry.
These torpedo-shaped sh oten resemble grayghosts as they streak through the shallowbackwaters and along the ringes o mangroveorests. Their silvery color oten casts refectionso blue and green, and dark streaks punctuate thegaps between the scales on their upper body.Bonesh have a conical, scaleless head with ablack-tipped snout and small mouth. They havea single, sail-shaped dorsal n, a powerullymuscled body, and a deeply orked tail.Bonesh are grouped with tarpon, eels, andladysh because all o these sh have a similarlarval stage, but the only other characteristic theyshare is that most o them are not considered goodto eat. Nevertheless, tarpon andbonesh are greatly prized bysport anglers or their wilynature and tenacious spirit.Bonesh may live as long as19 years. Females are slightlylonger than males o the same age.
Range and Habitat
Bonesh reside in inshore marine waters. Asadults, they requent shallow fats, occupyingseagrass beds, sandy bottoms, and, occasionally,hard bottoms. They are oten ound in quietbackwaters along mangrove-ringed areas.Bonesh preer salty water, so they do not moveinto waters o the Everglades.In mid-summer and in winter, bonesh maymove out to deeper waters, but they typically donot migrate long distances. Boneish areoccasionally ound as ar north as the Indian RiverLagoon on Florida’s east coast.Worldwide, bonesh occur in coastal andinland waters o tropical seas. Scientists havediscovered at least eight species o bonesh, butmore may exist. There is usually little dierencebetween species in the way they look. Two Pacic
To 3 eet, 15 pounds
Worldwide in tropical seas
Shallow, inshore seagrass beds, mud fats, or sand fats
Commercial sale prohibited; recreational harvest limited to one sh per day,with a minimum size o 18 inches
Gray Ghosts of the Flats
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation CommissionFish and Wildlife Research Institute