The southern kingfish, southern kingcroaker, the king whiting or the Carolina whiting, is a species of marine fish in the family Sciaenidae. It lives in shallow coastal waters on the western fringes of the Atlantic Ocean. The southern kingfish can grow to 20 inches but a more usual adult length is 12 inches. The southern kingfish is a slender fish, deepest about 2/5’s of the way along. The upper jaw projects further than the lower and the snout overhangs the mouth. There is a small barbel on the fleshy lower lip. The dorsal fin is divided into two parts. The number of spines and soft rays in the fins is indicative of the species and in M. americanus, the front part of the dorsal fin is broadly triangular and has 10 spines and the other part is long and has 1 spine and 22 to 25 soft rays. The pointed pectoral fins are large and the anal fin has 1 spine and 7 or 8 soft rays. The tail fin has a characteristic slightly concave upper lobe and a rounded lower lobe. The color of the fish is silvery grey, sometimes with a coppery sheen, and paler grey below. There are sometimes several broad slanting bands of darker color on the back of the fish.
Illustration: © Diane Rome Peebles