Maryland Department of Natural Resources police just spent 12 hours measuring 14,000 pounds of fish. They were looking for undersized croaker seized in what’s believed to be an illegal commercial fishing operation at the mouth of the Patuxent River in St. Mary’s County.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources investigate croaker

Maryland Department of Natural Resources investigation into undersized croaker (photo courtesy Maryland DNR)

Croaker are silvery-pink fish that make a loud “croaking” sound. You can find them in the Chesapeake Bay from Spring through the Fall.

Atlantic Croaker

Atlantic Croaker (photo courtesy Chesapeake Bay Program)

They’re about a foot-and-a-half long when fully grown. It took 17 officers from four counties to measure all those fish. Maryland DNR say they found about 3,500 pounds of the fish seized were undersized. That’s about 25% of the entire catch.

Officers got a complaint Tuesday morning of a large number of dead fish floating near Town Creek, a Patuxent River tributary. They found a vessel unloading at a nearby pier. Police seized the load.

DNR says they also questioned three fishermen and two other workers who were off-loading the fish. The investigation is still underway.

The fish were refrigerated during the search and the undersized ones were released into the Chesapeake Bay.