Color of back is green or greenish blue with silvery sides, white underneath (colors darken when fish enters fresh water to spawn). Belly with scutes forming distinct keel with one or more dark spots in a row behind operculum. The lower jaw has a pointed tip that fits into v-shaped notch in upper jaw. Dorsal fin situated at mid-back; ventral fins directly below the dorsal fin, each with a fleshy appendage at its base. No adipose fin. Belly with sharp edged, saw-toothed scales called "scutes." No lateral line. Scales are large and easily lost. This fish species can be found in the east of the Appalachians along the Atlantic coast of North America from Sand Hill River, Labrador to the St. Johns River, Florida. Also, in St. Lawrence River to Lakes Huron and Erie. The American shad was introduced into the Sacramento River, California and is today up and down the Pacific coast as far south as Bahia de Todos Santos in upper Baja California, Mexico and as far north as Alaska and the Kamchatka Peninsula, on the Asiatic side. Like the salmons, the American shad is an anadromous fish that ascends coastal rivers to spawn.