Oyster Toadfish

Opsanus tau

The first response most people have when catching this fish is “What is THAT?” Oyster toadfish are certainly strange looking! They are soft and slimy, with wart-like fringes and fleshy flaps on their enormous head, wide bulging eyes, and intricate striped patterns on their body and fins. They can grow to over fifteen inches in length. The oyster toadfish is most frequently found in saltier parts of the estuary. It lives on the river bottom, often hiding among rocks or debris, where its huge mouth snaps up any prey that doesn’t recognize the perfectly camouflaged toadfish. A toadfish can eat many things, including oysters and other mollusks that it crushes in its strong jaws. You may hear a toadfish grunt, and underwater the male toadfish can make a loud call like a foghorn to attract a mate. Although it is not often caught for food, the toadfish’s hardy nature makes it ideal for medical research, and they have even been sent into space for experiments!

Caution! The oyster toadfish has mild venom in its small front dorsal fin. Handle with care!