Thanksgiving trip to SC

On Friday, November 25th, Fritz and I met up with Tim to explore the Lynches River and surrounding waterbodies in South Carolina. We had a few sites in mind that Fritz’s had visited in the 80’s, and came up with an itinerary. Being Thanksgiving weekend, we all came from different parts of the state, and met at a gas station in Rockingham, NC.

 

From there we car pooled to our first location, Campbell Lake, near Patrick, SC.

 

20161125_101422_Pano.jpg

 

Our main target here was to find lake chubsuckers, Erimyzon sucetta. Due to the knee to waist deep mud discovered on the bottom of this lake, seining was not a viable option, and we resorted to dipnets.

In the end we managed bluespotted sunfish, lined topminnow, everglades pygmy sunfish, sawcheek darter, and black banded sunfish.

 

Everglades Pygmy Sunfish - Elassoma evergladei
Everglades Pygmy Sunfish – Elassoma evergladei

 

Lined topminnow - Fundulus lineolatus
Lined topminnow – Fundulus lineolatus

 

Sawcheek Darter - Etheostoma serrifer
Sawcheek Darter – Etheostoma serrifer

 

Blackbanded Sunfish - Enneacanthus chaetodon
Blackbanded Sunfish – Enneacanthus chaetodon

 

Our next site was a 5 minute drive around the corner. It was a swampy area, with a surprising amount of flow, and quite a bit of SAV considering how late in the year it was. This site was absolutely loaded with pirate perch, with a few bluegill, everglades pygmy sunfish, eastern mudminnow, swampfish, blackbanded sunfish, lined topminnow, flier, and no doubt a few others that I am forgetting.

 

20161125_110236_Pano.jpg

 

20161125_110159.jpg

 

I did not photograph anything except the flier here, as the rest were already duplicates.

 

Flier - Centrarchus macropterus
Flier – Centrarchus macropterus

 

Our next stop was where SC 903 crosses the Lynches River, near Jefferson, SC.

20161125_124959_Pano.jpg

 

Here we began seining in every conceivable fashion, without much luck. Tim was having no issues catching white suckers with his dipnet, and not wanting to be out fished by the new guy (street cred and all), we gave up on the seine and brought out the big guns.

 

15252549_10209711797665673_8491983791757

I’m sure that I’m going to miss a few fish that we caught here, but from memory: brassy jumprock, white sucker, redbreast sunfish, warmouth, green sunfish, redear sunfish, mosquitofish, eastern silvery minnow, swallowtail shiner, whitefin shiner, piedmont darter, tessellated darter, and greenfin shiner.
Greenfin Shiner - Cyprinella chloristia
Greenfin Shiner – Cyprinella chloristia

 

Scartomyzon sp. cf. lachneri - Brassy Jumprock
Scartomyzon sp. cf. lachneri – Brassy Jumprock

Somehow we managed to lose the white suckers before we took any pics of them, but Tim assures me they are common in the area, so next time!

Our last stop of the day was at a known redlips spot. I had shot a few photos of redlips on a trip earlier in the spring, but didn’t really like the way they turned out, so we stopped to grab one for a quick photo. The location was a spot that Fritz had sampled a few years ago, on Deep Creek, just north of the town of Ruby, SC.

We made 2 passes with a seine, and caught a decent sized redlip shiner, as well as a few highfin shiners.

 

Redlip Shiner - Notropis chiliticus
Redlip Shiner – Notropis chiliticus
 And lastly, Tim was nice enough to bring me some Carolina Darters that he had caught the day previous to photograph:
Carolina Darter - Etheostoma collis
Carolina Darter – Etheostoma collis
6 hours of driving and 3 new species for the collection, all things considered, not a bad day!

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Bluefin Tuna Sampling

Bluefin Tuna
Bluefin Tuna

 

Work has kept us pretty busy lately, so in the spirit of adding new content as often as possible, I wanted to share some pictures from a few years ago. The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus is an incredibly large, fast growing, and pelagic fish native to just about the entire Atlantic basin. Our job was to take biological samples, including otoliths and fin clips, from recreationally landed fish for ageing and DNA samples. Unfortunately this is an incredibly dirty process, and I was unable and unwilling to subject my camera to the onslaught of oil and blood. Words cannot express how greasy these fish are! I did manage to take a few cell phone photographs of some of the age structures, but a majority of the photos were of the unloading process, and not of the sampling.

Initially, the fish are tagged, and hoisted off the boat. During the hoist, the fish are weighed for an initial weight.

 

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

You will notice in the second picture, that the operculum and gills have been removed. This is done by the angler’s at sea, in order to cool the fish down as quickly as possible after the long fight. The gill cavity is then filled with ice for the ride back in.

 

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

 

Once the fish are off the boat and weighed, they are measured using the curved fork length. This information will be submitted along with the tag numbers to federal and state fisheries. The fish are then picked back up, and lowered onto a cleaning table, this is where the job gets messy!

 

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

The dorsal, anal, and pectoral fins are cut off first:

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

Then the head is removed:

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

Next up, the caudal fin:

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

Now the remaining gills, and all of the guts!

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

What is left is then loaded into a harness and craned into a deep freezer for the ride to the market. (Most likely in Japan, although some NY and LA restaurants will buy them)

Bluefin Tuna Processing
Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

Until sometime in the 1970’s, bluefin tuna wasn’t really marketed for human consumption, as it is an in incredibly bloody fish. Old timers talk about selling them to dog food manufacturers, or to burying parts of them in their gardens for fertilizer. How much of this talk is just hyperbole, I don’t know, however in today’s market, these fish command very high prices, and I can’t imagine any dogs getting to enjoy it.

Bluefin Tuna Processing

 

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New Photography Methods

Lately we have been playing around with shooting fish on white backgrounds. The gist of the process is to use two strobes behind a phototank and pointing at a white wall, then a third strobe to illuminate the fish. You want to overexpose the wall to create the white background. The process is a bit tricky, and one that Jesse can explain much better than I can, but the results speak for themselves!

We still aren’t sure if we like this method better, I am still a fan of the black, but it is very useful for showing features of fins that are lost on black. Since it is winter and fish weren’t exactly jumping into our dipnets, we picked up a few aquarium fishes to test. Any thoughts?

 

 

Cherry Barb - Puntius titteya
Cherry Barb – Puntius titteya

 

Shortfinned Molly - Poecilia sphenops - Var Gold Dust
Shortfinned Molly – Poecilia sphenops – Var Gold Dust

 

Zebra Danio - Danio rerio - Var. 'frankei'
Zebra Danio – Danio rerio – Var. ‘frankei’

 

Bluefish - Pomatomus saltatrix
Bluefish – Pomatomus saltatrix

 

'Oriental River Shrimp' - Macrobrachium sp. c.f. nipponense
‘Oriental River Shrimp’ – Macrobrachium sp. c.f. nipponense

 

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Fishmap.org

Speckled Killifish - Fundulus rathbuni
Speckled Killifish – Fundulus rathbuni

 

 

In the last few months, Ryan Crutchfield over at www.fishmap.org, has been working to create an API in order for us to display his wonderful range maps on ncfishes. Because this coincided with a database rewrite, we have been slow to implement it, but I wanted to share a sneak peek of what it will look like when finished:

 

Fundulus rathbuni

 

 

Check out his website at www.fishmap.org !

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2015 Year in Review

As no doubt you have noticed, we may have slacked off a bit on reporting our trips this year. Rest assured that we made many trips, and photographed many new species, however the work of documenting our progress fell to the wayside. Since I have been asked about this, I decided to do a quick summary of our fish adventures from 2015! Enjoy…

 

We started out in January looking for new places to collect:

january

 

We worked on some bluefin tuna sampling:

bluefinsamples2

 

bluefinsamples

 

In February we worked on collecting speckled trout cold stun event data:

troutdead3

 

troutdead2

 

troutdead

 

In March we had an article written about the site in a local magazine:

march

 

And people started fishing again!

march2

 

The shad started to run, and we began writing identification guides:

shad

 

shad2

 

And the yellow perch made a good showing:

yellow perch

 

In April we began an article on the infamous amberjack worms:

 

and we shot some video of sheepshead minnows mating:

and we caught some vividly colored rainwater killifish:

Rainwater Killifish - Lucania parva - Female
Rainwater Killifish – Lucania parva – Female

 

Rainwater Killifish - Lucania parva - Male
Rainwater Killifish – Lucania parva – Male

 

And we sampled a few new locations:

sample

 

 

In May we visited the Green Swamp:

greenswamp

 

Lined topminnow - Fundulus lineolatus
Lined topminnow – Fundulus lineolatus

 

Fishing really started to pick up:

jack

juvenile amberjack

dolphin

 

 

Common Dolphin - Coryphaena hippurus
Common Dolphin – Coryphaena hippurus – Juvenile

 

Permit - Trachinotus falcatus
Permit – Trachinotus falcatus – Juvenile

 

Greater Amberjack - Seriola dumerili
Greater Amberjack – Seriola dumerili – Juvenile

 

and encountered all of the commonly caught Lepomis species in the Trent River:

Sunfishes of North Carolina
Top to bottom: Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus), Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus), Redear Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus), Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)

 

In June we began working on a flounder ID guide:

Paralichthys-albigutta

southernflounder

 

And did a little bit of microfishing:

microfishing2

 

microfishing3

 

microfishing

 

and a bit of deep sea fishing:

trolling2

 

trolling

 

weehoo

 

and lastly, did a bit of spearfishing:

spearfishing

 

spearfishing2

 

In July we did some backpack shocking on the Black River:

backpackshocking

backpackshocling2

backpackshocling3

 

 

 

 

We also managed a few shrimp trawl trips:

shrimpnet

 

Spotted Whiff - Citharichthys macrops
Spotted Whiff – Citharichthys macrops

 

Fringed flounder - Etropus crossotus
Fringed flounder – Etropus crossotus

 

American Harvestfish - Peprilus paru
American Harvestfish – Peprilus paru

 

Bay Whiff - Citharichthys spilopterus
Bay Whiff – Citharichthys spilopterus

 

In August we sampled seagrass beds and charter docks:

dockside3

 

docckside1

 

dockside2

 

seagrass2

 

seagrass

 

 

In September we did more dockside sampling:

tripletail

 

Spanish Mackerel - Scomberomorus maculatus
Spanish Mackerel – Scomberomorus maculatus

 

Spot - Leiostomus xanthurus
Spot – Leiostomus xanthurus

 

Pinfish – Lagodon rhomboides
Pinfish – Lagodon rhomboides

 

In October, we took a slight deviation from the normal routine, and sampled some sites in the Amazon:

amazon2

 

amazon

 

0029peru 0015peru killie3 apisto1reshoot 0074peru 0033peru

 

In November work kept us pretty busy, but we managed to sneak a few trips in:

castnet

(Yes there are actually fish in that little pond)

And lastly, in December we made it out a few more times:

striped bass

 

mummichog

 

croatan2

 

Swampfish - Chologaster cornuta
Swampfish – Chologaster cornuta

 

Eastern Mudminnow - Umbra pygmaea
Eastern Mudminnow – Umbra pygmaea

 

Pumpkinseed - Lepomis gibbosus
Pumpkinseed – Lepomis gibbosus

 

Bluehead Chub - Nocomis leptocephalus
Bluehead Chub – Nocomis leptocephalus

 

Green Sunfish - Lepomis cyanellus
Green Sunfish – Lepomis cyanellus

 

Creek Chub - Semotilus atromaculatus
Creek Chub – Semotilus atromaculatus

 

carp

 

We will do better keeping updates in 2016!

 

 

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Sargassum Community

This article was written in June 2015, and published in July 2015.

 

Today I wanted to share a collecting trip of a different sort: sargassum sampling.

 

Sargassum
Sargassum

 

Sargassum is a genus of brown algae, most widely recognized for its holopelagic (always free-floating) forms, S. natans and S. fluitans. These algae form large mats in offshore waters, blown together by winds and currents.

Hard onshore winds in recent days have blown in a lot of the free floating Sargassum from offshore, and I took this opportunity to do some dip net sampling. I chose the docks at the Morehead City waterfront, as proximity to Beaufort Inlet, and large docks, made for easy access to the sargassum floating by.
 

 
Sargassum provides a plethora of juvenile fishes with shelter, and a source of food in offshore waters. Most fishes do not eat the sargassum, but rather prey on other animals that are attracted to it. It is worth noting that a majority of the offshore fishes will not stick with the sargassum as it drifts into inshore waters, and many inshore fishes will associate with the sargassum once it blows inshore. In other words, some of these species below may not normally be associated with sargassum communities. With that said, I definitely caught a mixed bag of fishes and inverts!

Red colored species names are normally not associated with sargassum, and likely attached once it had drifted inshore.

 

Lesser Blue Crab - Callinectes similis
Lesser Blue Crab – Callinectes similis

 

Greater Amberjack - Seriola dumerili
Greater Amberjack – Seriola dumerili – Juvenile

 

Gag Grouper - Mycteroperca microlepis
Gag Grouper – Mycteroperca microlepis – Juvenile

 

Bermuda Chub - Kyphosus sectatrix
Bermuda Chub – Kyphosus sectatrix

 

Lined Seahorse - Hippocampus erectus
Lined Seahorse – Hippocampus erectus

 

Almaco Jack - Seriola rivoliana
Almaco Jack – Seriola rivoliana – Juvenile

 

Sargassum Nudibranch - Scyllaea pelagica
Sargassum Nudibranch – Scyllaea pelagica

 

Tripletail - Lobotes surinamensis
Tripletail – Lobotes surinamensis – Juvenile

 

Planehead filefish - Stephanolepis hispidus
Planehead filefish – Stephanolepis hispidus – Juvenile

 

Permit - Trachinotus falcatus
Permit – Trachinotus falcatus – Juvenile

 

Common Dolphin - Coryphaena hippurus
Common Dolphin – Coryphaena hippurus – Juvenile

 

Brown Grass Shrimp - Leander tenuicornis
Brown Grass Shrimp – Leander tenuicornis

 

 

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Shad Identification

This article was written in March 2015, but not published until June.

American Shad - Alosa sapidissima
American Shad – Alosa sapidissima

In North Carolina, members of the family Clupeidae include the herrings, shad, and menhaden. Although members of this family can be found year round, we wanted to specifically mention them today due to the annual spring spawning runs that a few of these species make. Starting in about February, and running through May, the sexually mature (and normally marine) Hickory Shad, American Shad, Blueback Herring, and Alewife Herring will enter area rivers and swim up them to reach their spawning grounds. It is during this time that anglers will commonly encounter them, and with any luck, catch them.

Identification of the various Clupeiform fishes becomes vitally important during their spawning runs, as different rules apply to different species, in different waterbodies. Currently in North Carolina, on the Neuse River, you can keep 10 shad (American or Hickory) in combination, including no more than 1 American shad. For more information, see:

http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Regs/Documents/2014-15/Fishing_Regulations.pdf

The aim of this post is to help in identifying the American Shad from the Hickory Shad, as these are the two that we receive the most questions about, and the two most commonly caught on hook and line. If you wish to learn about the other river herrings, please see this pamphlet by the NCWRC:

http://216.27.39.103/Portals/0/Fishing/documents/Herring_Shad_ID_guide_sm.pdf

 

Hickory shad - Alosa mediocris - Top American Shad - Alosa sapidissima - Bottom
Hickory shad – Alosa mediocris – Top
American Shad – Alosa sapidissima – Bottom

American Shad Identification:

American Shad - Alosa sapidissima
American Shad – Alosa sapidissima

The American Shad, Alosa sapidissima, is the largest of all the herrings. Commonly reaching sizes of 50 cm SL (19.6 inches, Standard Length). Like all shad in this article, they have a silvery, metallic sheen, with blues and greens on top, fading to white below. They also have a row of scales on their bellies, known as ventral scutes. These scales are saw-like, very noticeable, and serve as a method to distinguish the river herring  and shads from the sea herrings, which lack these scales. One of the most obvious features to aid in identifying them, is the lower jaw. The lower jaw of the American Shad does not protrude beyond the upper jaw when fully closed. This will become a lot more obvious in the following sections. The American Shad has 59-73 gill rakers on the lower limb of the first gill arch.

Ventral scutes of a Hickory Shad ventral scutes
Ventral Scutes

 

Hickory Shad Identification:

Hickory Shad - Alosa mediocris
Hickory Shad – Alosa mediocris

Hickory Shad are noticeably smaller on average than the American Shad. Commonly to 40 cm SL (15.7 Inches Standard Length). Hickory Shad also have ventral scutes as in the above photograph. The lower jaw of the Hickory Shad protrudes beyond the upper jaw when fully closed. The Hickory Shad has approximately 20 gill rakers on the lower limb of the first gill arch.

Closed Jaws up close:

Hickory shad - Alosa mediocris
Hickory shad – Alosa mediocris

Here, in this photo above, you can see the lower jaw of the Hickory Shad protrudes a great deal past the upper jaw when the mouth is closed.

 

American Shad - Alosa sapidissima
American Shad – Alosa sapidissima

Here, in the photo above, you can see the lower jaw of the American Shad does not protrude beyond the upper jaw when the mouth is fully closed. The mouth is in fact open just a bit in this photograph.

Hickory shad - Alosa mediocris - Top American Shad - Alosa sapidissima - Bottom
Hickory shad – Alosa mediocris – Top
American Shad – Alosa sapidissima – Bottom

Some of the other more common Clupeids in our area include the Gizzard Shad, Dorosoma cepedianum, the Atlantic Menhaden, Brevoortia tyrannus, the Atlantic Thread Herring, Opisthonema oglinum, and the Threadfin Shad, Dorosoma petenense.

Atlantic Thread Herring - Opisthonema-oglinum - Top Atlantic Menhaden - Brevoortia-tyrannus - Bottom
Atlantic Thread Herring – Opisthonema-oglinum – Top
Atlantic Menhaden – Brevoortia-tyrannus – Bottom
Dorosoma cepedianum - Gizzard Shad - Top Brevoortia tyrannus - Atlantic Menhaden - Bottom
Dorosoma cepedianum – Gizzard Shad – Top
Brevoortia tyrannus – Atlantic Menhaden – Bottom
Atlantic Thread Herring - Opisthonema oglinum
Atlantic Thread Herring – Opisthonema oglinum

We will be adding additional photographs as we encounter them!

 

Ranges in North Carolina:

Alosa aestivalis Range in NC
Alosa aestivalis Range in NC
Alosa sapidissima Range in NC
Alosa sapidissima Range in NC
Alosa pseudoharengus Range in NC
Alosa pseudoharengus Range in NC
Alosa mediocris Range in NC
Alosa mediocris Range in NC

 

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Vermillion vs Silk Snappers

Lutjanus vivanus vs Rhomboplites aurorubens
Top: Vermillion Snapper – Rhomboplites aurorubens
Bottom: Silk Snapper – Lutjanus vivanus

 

Today we are starting a series of posts that will showcase some of the fishes we encounter on a weekly basis. We plan on including both common fishes, oddballs, a little biology, and lots of pictures! Often we find fishes that are everyday sights to us, may be very interesting to people who don’t have the luxury of seeing them as often. With that in mind, I wanted to start off by covering the differences between two common species of snapper that I saw today, the vermillion snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens) and the silk snapper (Lutjanus vivanus). As adults these two species are easy to separate, as the silk snapper grows much larger, but between 10 and 20 inches these fishes are often mixed up.

Upon an initial glance, the two species seem awfully similar, they are both red, both snappers, and both have faint parallel yellow lines along their sides. Looking at a still picture of both fishes side by side, one obvious difference is the eye color.

 

Silk Snapper - Lutjanus vivanus - Close up
Silk Snapper – Lutjanus vivanus – Close up of Yellow Lines

 

Vermillion Snapper - Rhomboplites aurorubens - Close up
Vermillion Snapper – Rhomboplites aurorubens – Close up of Yellow Lines

 

Vermillion snapper have a red eye, while the silk snapper have a diagnostic yellow eye. The silk snapper also has yellow tinged pectoral fins, anal fin, dorsal fin, and caudal fin, where the vermillion is red all around. These yellow tinged fins may be subtle in the above picture, but are much more obvious in person. The vermillion snapper is rather slender compared to the silk, with a smaller head and shorter snout.

 

Silk Snapper - Lutjanus vivanus
Silk Snapper – Lutjanus vivanus

 

Vermillion Snapper - Rhomboplites aurorubens
Vermillion Snapper – Rhomboplites aurorubens

 

The vermillion snapper tends to live in more shallow water than the silk, and is often caught on headboats and charters while bottom fishing wrecks and reefs. The silk snapper on the other hand is generally caught in much deeper waters, and is rarely if ever seen on typical headboat trips.

Finally, both species can be distinguished from the fish they are most commonly confused with, the Red Snapper by the lack of pale yellow bands along its sides.

 

Lutjanus campechanus
American Red Snapper – Lutjanus campechanus

 

Silk Snapper - Lutjanus vivanus
Silk Snapper – Lutjanus vivanus

 

Vermilion Snapper - Rhomboplites aurorubens
Vermilion Snapper – Rhomboplites aurorubens

 

This post is intended to be as generic as possible while still helping readers identify their catch. If you need specifics, the following images will better assist you.

Vermillion vs Silk Snappers

 

Silk Snapper - Lutjanus vivanus
Silk Snapper – Lutjanus vivanus

 

Vermillion Snapper - Rhomboplites aurorubens
Vermillion Snapper – Rhomboplites aurorubens

 

And lastly, a few external links:

Silk Snapper

Vermillion Snapper

 

 

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Species Range Maps in R

The Range of Chologaster cornuta in NC
The Range of Chologaster cornuta in NC

 

Lately we have been toying with the idea of developing species range maps for North Carolina fishes. Although we wish we could run this project full time, work keeps us rather busy, and having gone back and forth for a while, neither of us really had any concrete solutions that we could accomplish in our limited free time.

Enter R.

R is a statistical programming language that you can read all about here and here. Basically, R allows you to clean, manipulate, and plot data in a very efficient way, for free. As in open source free. Now, neither of us are programmers by trade, but we can read stackoverflow and use google with the best of them. Our code may not be optimised, or use best practices, but it works!  Our script creates range maps using data sets from www.fishnet2.net, and a few crucial R libraries (ggplot2, Cairo).  If you wish to produce your own maps, head over to fishnet, make a data query for the state of NC and download the CSV. We would like to make the download automatic for you, but fishnet requires an api key to interact with their servers, and we aren’t going to share that. Feel free to take a look at the code, rip it apart, and let us know what you think!

Head on over to Github to check out our code: Github

We created a quick markdown file explaining the process here.

In the meantime, we are working on integrating our maps into the site in order to give our readers more detailed collection information, and provide a better experience.

 

 

Cyprinella nivea Range in NC
Cyprinella nivea Range in NC
Cyprinella galactura Range in NC
Cyprinella galactura Range in NC
Cyprinella analostana Range in NC
Cyprinella analostana Range in NC
Cyprinella pyrrhomelas Range in NC
Cyprinella pyrrhomelas Range in NC
Cyprinella chloristia Range in NC
Cyprinella chloristia Range in NC

 

 

Fish specimen data used in this map obtained from the North Carolina State Science Museum, (Accessed through the Fishnet2 Portal, www.fishnet2.org, 2013-12-21).

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Trip Report – Morehead City, NC

On Thursday, October 16th, I drove by the Morehead City visitors center looking for a sergeant major (Abudefduf saxatilis) that frequents the floating docks. Although I failed to find that damsel, I did notice a number of gobies swimming around in a storm water retention pond in the parking lot. This struck me as odd, being that it is freshwater, and has no obvious flow into the sound. I really wanted to capture these gobies, however I quickly realized that this was going to be a two person job, and decided to wait for an opportunity to seine the pond. Due to some bad weather, we weren’t able to return until Saturday. Although retention ponds were never really a focus of ours, sighting gobies really got us excited, and the pond definitely did not let us down.

Morehead City Visitor's Center
Morehead City Visitor’s Center

 

The sheer amount of algae growing in this pond really hindered our efforts, but in the end we pulled seine nets, and dip netted the every square inch, and were incredibly surprised with our catch:

 

Eastern Mosquitofish Gambusia holbrooki
American Eel Anguilla rostrata
Fat Sleeper Dormitator maculatus
American Freshwater Goby Ctenogobius shufeldti
Lyre Goby Evorthodus lyricus
River Goby Awaous banana

 

Although the american eel, the mosquitofish, and for the most part, the freshwater goby, are ubiquitous around here, the lyre was a nice surprise. The lyre is not necessarily rare, but it was our first time encountering it.

American Freshwater Goby - Ctenogobius shufeldti
American Freshwater Goby – Ctenogobius shufeldti
Lyre Goby - Evorthodus lyricus
Lyre Goby – Evorthodus lyricus
Fat Sleeper - Dormitator maculatus
Fat Sleeper – Dormitator maculatus
Fat Sleeper - Dormitator maculatus
Fat Sleeper – Dormitator maculatus

On the topic of rare gobies however, the river goby, A. banana is quite rare in the United States, and it just so happens that Jesse caught one in his dipnet. Other than one specimen collected after a fish kill in a tributary of the Cape Fear River in 1996, our catch is the only other known occurrence of this fish in North Carolina, and is without a doubt the furthest north of any recorded specimen.

River Goby - Awaous banana
River Goby – Awaous banana
River Goby - Awaous banana
River Goby – Awaous banana – After 18h in formalin

After exploring the pond for a few hours, we determined that the gobies and eels must have entered the retention pond during spring tides that corresponded with rain events, and came up the pond’s overflow that flows into Bogue Sound. This is the only plausible explanation, as the overflows are graded in such a manner as to prevent fishes from reaching the pond during normal weather. Either way, it is a catch for the record books!

 

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