Longnose Gar | Lepisosteus osseus
Longnose Gar info on Wikipedia:
|Longnose gar at the New England Aquarium.|
The following information has been created as a monitoring plan for the longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus). L. osseus resides along the east coast of North and Central American freshwater lakes and has been found as far west as Kansas and Texas and southern New Mexico. The gar have been present in North America for about 100 million years. Predation is not a problem on adult longnose gar, however they are vulnerable to other gar predation when they are young, including adult longnose gar. L. osseus are piscivores, for example, their diet consists of sunfish, catfish, crayfish in their Texas range. Sexual maturity for males is reached between 3 and 4 years of age while females at 6 years of age. Sex ratios are in favor of the males in the early life stages until about 10 years, then switches in favor of females. Females hold an average clutch size of about 27,000 eggs per clutch. Their eggs are very toxic to terrestrial vertebrates, but other piscivorous fish could tolerate the toxins. In the early 1900s, longnose gars were considered as destructive and worthless predators. Soon after this characterization, gar population reduction methods were established. L. osseus has been reported as a threatened species (South Dakota, Delaware, and Pennsylvania). Their declining populations are due to over fishing, habitat loss, dams, road construction, pollution, and other human caused destruction of the aquatic systems. Overfishing is more of a trophy fish than for food; people find their meat to have a mild but tasty flavor. Because of their long life spans and older sexual maturity age, anything affecting their reproductive population is a huge issue in preserving their existence.
Fossils have been found in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America dating back 100 million years. Currently, longnose gar are found in Central America, Cuba, North America, and the Isles of Pines. Longnose gar are frequently found in freshwater in the eastern half of the United States, but there have been some cases of gar found in salinities up to 31 ppt. Their micro-habitats consist of areas near downed trees, stone outcrops, and vegetation. The decline of their populations is mainly due to human manipulation of aquatic systems. Any type of interference, such as the presence of dams, road construction, or over fishing could drastically decline any population of fish.
The most common prey of the longnose gar is clupeids (herrings and shads) as well as cyprinids and fundulids; they usually feed at night. Their main competitors are other gar of their own species as well as other types of gar. Larger gars have been known to feed on smaller gar, as well. Longnose gar were a main source of food for Native Americans and early colonists. The first settlers at Jamestown, Virginia dined on this fish through their harsh early years. Today, gar is more of sport fish but their meat is surprisingly tasty. Over fishing is a large issue for this fish especially when the fish have not reached sexual maturity due to the female not peaking sexual maturity until about six years of age.
Longnose gar have an average life span of 15–20 years with a max age of 39 thus far. This long lifespan allows the female to be able to sexually mature later in life (around 6 years old). As for the male, they mature sexually as soon as 2 years of age. Sex ratios are in favor of the males in the beginning until after 10 years of age, and then the sex ratios are in favor of the females. Longnose gars are sexually dimorphic to which the females are larger than the males in body length, weight, and fin length. They generally have a clutch size close to 30,000, depending on the weight to length ratio of the females; larger females bare larger clutch sizes. They spawn in temperatures close to 20C in late April and early July. There consists of one female to five males per spawning ground. Eggs have a toxic, adhesive coating helping them stick to substrates and are deposited onto stones in shallow water, rocky shelves, vegetation, or smallmouth bass nests. Their hatch time is 7–9 days; young gar stay in vegetation during the first summer of life.
There is no current management of this species nor is it federally listed as endangered, although some states have reported it as threatened (South Dakota, Delaware, and Pennsylvania). In the early 1900s, the longnose gar was considered destructive and worthless predators and was thought to be destroyed. Many people feared them based on their spooky appearance of a long mouth filled with teeth and armor like scales as well as their diet consists of anything that will fit in their gape. This decrease as well as over fishing, habitat loss, construction of roads and dams, pollution, and any other role humans play in the alteration of aquatic systems are the main reasons for the decline of the gar.
Thus far, there have not been any documented experiments using radio or acoustic tags to monitor movements of the longnose gar population densities. Radio tags would be useful in monitoring the location of populations throughout the year or even throughout individual life spans. Seines would be used to catch the gar around September, before they leave after the summer, to track their movements since they reside in the vegetation towards the edge of the water banks. Seines could also be used to catch older gar at night when they are feeding (this would be preferred between breeding seasons). Samples should be taken in the shallow parts of rivers such as the Mississippi River, Delaware River, NM and Rio Grande drainages of New Mexico and Texas.
- McGrath, P.E., E. J. Hilton. 2011. Sexual dimorphism in longnose gar Lepisosteus osseus. Journal of Fish Biology 80(2)335-345.
- Bonham, Kelshaw. 1941. Food of gars in Texas. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 70(1):356-362.
- Netsh, Lt. Norval F., Arthur Witt Jr. 1962. Contributions to the Life History of the Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus) in Missouri. Transactions of the American Fisheris Society 91(3):251-262.
- Johnson, Brian L., Douglas B. Noltie. 1997. Demography, Growth, and Reproductive Allocation in Stream-Spawning Longnose Gar. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 126:438-466
- Alfaro, Roberto Mendoza, et al. 2008. Gar biology and culture: status and prospects. Aquaculture Research 39:748-763
- Wiley, E. O. 1976. The phylogeny and biogeography of fossil and recent gars (Actinopterygii: Lepisosteidae). Miscellaneous Publication, University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History 64
- Uhler, P. R. & O. Lugger. 1876. List of fishes of Maryland. Report of the Commisioners of Fisheries of Maryland, to the General Assembly
- Suttkus, R. D. 1963. Order Lepisostei. In: Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Memoir 1, Part Three, of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research (H. B. Bigelow, C. M. Cohen, G. W. Mead, D. Merriman, Y. H. Olsen, W. C. Schroeder, L. P. Schultz, and J. Tee-Van, eds.), pp. 61-88. New Haven, CT: Yale University.
- Haase, B. L. 1969. An ecological life history of the longnose gar, Lepisosteus osseus (Linnaeus), in Lake Mendota and in several other lakes of southern Wisconsin. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.
- Bonham, Kelshaw. 1941. Food of gars in Texas. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 70(1):356-362.
- Straube, B. and N. Luccketti. 1996. Jamestown rediscovery 1995 interim report. November 2006. The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, 55 p.
- Alfaro, Roberto Mendoza, et al. 2008. Gar biology and culture: status and prospects. Aquaculture Research 39:748-763
- Netsh, Lt. Norval F., Arthur Witt Jr. 1962. Contributions to the Life History of the Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus) in Missouri. Transactions of the American Fisheris Society 91(3):251-262.
- Beard, J. 1889. On the early development of Lepidosteus osseus. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 46:108-118.
- Haase, B. L. 1969. An ecological life history of the longnose gar, Lepisosteus osseus (Linnaeus), in Lake Mendota and in several other lakes of southern Wisconsin. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Lepisosteus osseus|
Spitzer, Mark. Season of the Gar: Adventures in Pursuit of America's Most Misunderstood Fish. U of Arkansas Press, 2010.
Lesser Siren | Siren intermedia
Lesser Siren info via Wikipedia:
The lesser siren (Siren intermedia) is a species of aquatic salamander native to the eastern United States and northern Mexico. They are referred by numerous common names, including two-legged eel, dwarf siren, and mud eel. The specific epithet intermedia denotes their intermediate size, between the greater siren, Siren lacertina, and the dwarf sirens, Pseudobranchus spp.
The lesser siren is nocturnal, spending its days hidden in the debris and mud at the bottom of slow-moving bodies of water. They feed primarily on aquatic invertebrates, including various kinds of worms, snails, and crustaceans. They will also eat the tadpoles and eggs of other amphibians.
Reproduction occurs in the spring, with eggs being laid in shallow depressions at the bottom of calm areas of water, usually surrounded by vegetation. Though little is known about their courtship, it is believed to be quite violent, as many specimens collected have scarring from healed bite marks from other sirens. About 12-300 eggs are laid at a time, and several clutches may be laid over the course of the year. Hatchlings are only about 0.4 in (1.1 cm) in length, but grow quickly. Maturity is reached in three to four years.
The lesser siren is vocal, unlike most salamanders, and will emit a series of clicks when it approaches others of its species, or a short screeching sound if handled.
If the habitat dries up during the summer, lesser sirens are capable of excreting a substance from their skin which protects them from dehydrating, and enables them to stay buried in dry mud for months until the water returns. Their small legs enable them to move on dry land for short periods of time.
Geographic distribution 
The lesser siren is found in the United States, primarily from Virginia to Florida, and west to Texas (ranging into northeastern Mexico as far as Veracruz), and north to Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
Sources disagree on the number of subspecies within S. intermedia; most agree there are at least two, an eastern and a western variety. Many sources also include a third subspecies, the Rio Grande lesser siren, S. i. texana, but researchers disagree whether the Rio Grande variety belongs as a lesser siren, within S. intermedia, or as a greater siren, within S. lacertina, and some others even consider it to be its own species, as S. texana.
- Eastern lesser siren, S. i. intermedia (Goin, 1942)
- Western lesser siren, S. i. nettingi (Goin, 1942)
- Rio Grande lesser siren, S. i. texana (Goin, 1957)
Conservation status 
The lesser siren is quite common through most of its range, but rarely seen due to its secretive nature. Like almost all species of amphibian, their numbers are believed to be declining due to general reductions in water quality caused by agricultural pesticide and fertilizer runoff. They are frequently collected and used as bait for fishing. The species is believed to be extirpated from Michigan, and the S. i. texana subspecies is listed as a threatened species in Texas.
Common Snapping Turtle | Chelydra serpentina
|Common snapping turtle|
|Female searching for nest site|
|Range map of C. serpentina|
The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is a large freshwater turtle of the family Chelydridae. Its natural range extends from southeastern Canada, southwest to the edge of the Rocky Mountains, as far east as Nova Scotia and Florida and as far southwest as northeastern Mexico. This species and the larger alligator snapping turtle are the only two species in this family found in North America (though the common snapping turtle, as its name implies, is much more widespread).
Common snappers are noted for their belligerent disposition when out of the water, their powerful beak-like jaws, and their highly mobile head and neck (hence the specific name "serpentina", meaning "snake-like"). In some areas they are hunted very heavily for their meat, a popular ingredient in turtle soup. These turtles have lived for up to 47 years in captivity, while the lifespan of wild individuals is estimated to be around 30 years.
- Anatomy and morphology
- Ecology and life history
- Systematics and taxonomy
- Invasive species
- In politics
- External links
Anatomy and morphology
Chelydra serpentina have rugged, muscular builds with ridged carapaces (though ridges tend to be more pronounced in younger individuals). The carapace (upper shell) length in adulthood may be nearly 50 cm (20 in), though 25–47 cm (9.8–19 in), is more common.C. serpentina usually weighs 4.5–16 kg (9.9–35 lb). Any specimen above the afforementioned weights are exceptional, but the heaviest wild specimen caught reportedly weighed 34 kg (75 lb). Snapping turtles kept in captivity can be quite overweight due to overfeeding and have weighed as much as 39 kg (86 lb). In the northern part of its range, the snapping turtle is often the heaviest native freshwater turtle.
Ecology and life history
Common habitats are shallow ponds, shallow lakes, or streams. Some may inhabit brackish environments, such as estuaries. Common snapping turtles sometimes bask—though rarely observed—by floating on the surface with only their carapace exposed, though in the northern parts of their range they will also readily bask on fallen logs in early spring. In shallow waters, common snappers may lie beneath a muddy bottom with only the head exposed, stretching their long necks to the surface for an occasional breath (note that their nostrils are positioned on the very tip of the snout, effectively functioning as snorkels). Snapping turtles are omnivores, consuming both plant and animal matter, and are important aquatic scavengers; but they are also active hunters that prey on anything they can swallow, including many invertebrates, fish, frogs, reptiles (including snakes and smaller turtles), unwary birds, and small mammals.
Snappers will travel extensively overland to reach new habitat or to lay eggs. Pollution, habitat destruction, food scarcity, overcrowding and other factors will drive snappers to move overland; it is quite common to find them traveling far from the nearest water source. This species mates from April through November, with their peak laying season in June and July. The female can hold sperm for several seasons, using it as necessary. Females travel over land to find sandy soil in which to lay their eggs, often some distance from the water. After digging a hole, the female typically deposits 25 to 80 eggs each year, guiding them into the nest with her hind feet and covering them with sand for incubation and protection. Incubation time is temperature-dependent, ranging from 9 to 18 weeks. In cooler climates, hatchlings overwinter in the nest. The Common Snapping Turtle is remarkably cold-tolerant; radiotelemetry studies have shown that some individuals do not hibernate, but remain active under the ice during the winter.  Although designated as "least concern" on the IUCN redlist, the species has been designated in the Canadian part of its range as "Special Concern" due to its life history being sensitive to disruption by anthropogenic activity.
Systematics and taxonomy
Currently no subspecies of the common snapping turtle are recognized. The former subspecies osceola is now considered a synonym of serpentina, while the other former subspecies Chelydra rossignonii and Chelydra acutirostris are both recognized as full species.
Snapping turtles have "fierce" dispositions; however, when encountered in the water, they usually slip quietly away from any disturbance. Snapping turtles have evolved the ability to snap because unlike other turtles, they are too large to hide in their own shells when confronted. Snapping is their defense mechanism. However, these turtles rarely bite humans; they usually flee when threatened.
The snapper is an aquatic ambush hunter, capturing its prey with its beak-like jaws.
The common snapping turtle is not an ideal pet. Its neck is very flexible, and the turtle can bite its handler even if picked up by the sides of its shell. It will make a hissing sound when it is threatened or encountered; however, when in the water and unprovoked, they are fairly docile toward humans.
It is a common misconception that common snapping turtles may be safely picked up by the tail with no harm to the animal; in fact, this has a high chance of injuring the turtle, especially the tail itself and the vertebral column. Lifting the turtle with the hands is difficult and dangerous. Snappers can stretch their necks back across their own carapace and to their hind feet on either side to bite. Also, their claws are sharp and capable of inflicting significant lacerations. When they feel stressed, they will release a musky odor from behind their legs.
It may be tempting to rescue a snapping turtle found in a road by getting it to bite a stick and then dragging it out of immediate danger. This action can, however, severely scrape the legs and underside of the turtle and allow for deadly infections in the wounds. The safest way to pick up a common snapping turtle is holding it by its plastron.
In Italy in recent years large mature adult Chelydra serpentina have been taken from bodies of water throughout the country. They were most probably introduced by the unwise release of pets. In March 2011 an individual weighing 20 kilograms (44 lb) was captured in a canal near Rome; another individual was captured near Rome in September 2012.
The common snapper was the central feature of a famous American political cartoon. Published in 1808 in protest at the Jeffersonian Embargo Act of 1807, the cartoon depicted a snapping turtle, jaws locked fiercely to an American trader who was attempting to carry a barrel of goods onto a British ship. The trader was seen whimsically uttering the words "Oh! this cursed Ograbme" ("embargo" spelled backwards). This piece is widely considered a pioneering work within the genre of the modern political cartoon.
The year 2006 saw the snapping turtle declared the state reptile of New York by a sweeping vote of the New York Legislature after being popularly chosen by the state's public elementary school children.
- Chelydra serpentina, IUCN
- C.H. Ernst (2008). "Systematics, Taxonomy, and Geographic Distribution of the Snapping Turtles, Family Chelydridae". In A.C. Styermark, M.S. Finkler, R.J. Brooks. Biology of the Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 5–13.
- Bosch, A. (2003). "Chelydra serpentina: Information". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- Kindersley, Dorling (2001,2005). Animal. New York City: DK Publishing. ISBN 0-7894-7764-5.
- Virginia Herpetological Society: Eastern Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina serpentina
- US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Laboratory: Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
- COSEWIC. "Species Profile - Snapping Turtle". Species At Risk Public Registry. Government of Canada. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- Rhodin, Anders G.J.; van Dijk, Peter Paul; Inverson, John B.; Shaffer, H. Bradley (2010-12-14). "Turtles of the world, 2010 update: Annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution and conservation status". Chelonian Research Monographs 5: 000.xx. Archived from the original on 2010-12-15.
- van Dijk, P.P., J Lee, J., Calderón Mandujano, R., Flores-Villela, O., Lopez-Luna, M.A. & Vogt, R.C. (2007). Chelydra rossignoni. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- Chelydra, Reptile Database
- Snapping Turtle, Encyclopedia.com
- Common Snapping Turtle, Nature.ca
- Indiviglio, Frank (2008-06-24). "Handling Snapping Turtles, Chelydra serpentina, and Other Large Turtles". That Reptile Blog. That Pet Place. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- Fang Anning (方安宁), "“小庭院”养殖龟鳖大有赚头" (Small-scale turtle farming may be very profitable). Zuojiang Daily (左江日报) (with photo)
- Una "azzanatrice" catturata fuori Roma. March 17, 2011. Corriere della Sera. Milan.
- Medina, Jennifer (2006-06-23). "A Few Things Lawmakers Can Agree On". N.Y./Region (New York Times). Retrieved 2008-07-20.
|Wikispecies has information related to: Chelydra serpentina|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Chelydra serpentina|
- The Snapping Turtle Page - www.chelydra.org
- Snapping Turtle - Chelydra serpentina Species account from the Iowa Reptile and Amphibian Field Guide
- Common Snapping Turtle, Natural Resources Canada
- Video: How to Help a Snapping Turtle Cross A Road from the Toronto Zoo
Smallmouth Buffalo| Ictiobus bubalus
Smallmouth Buffalo info on Wikipedia:
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (May 2012)|
|The distribution of I. bubalus in the United States|
The smallmouth buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus, from the Greek for "bull-fish" and "buffalo") is a Cypriniformes fish species found in the major tributaries and surrounding waters of the Mississippi River in the United States as well as some other water systems where it has been introduced. It is a stocky fish like its relatives the bigmouth buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus) and the black buffalo (Ictiobus niger), although the smallmouth buffalo's mouth is located ventrally like other Catostomidae species while the bigmouth buffalo's mouth is terminal and opens forward, and the smallmouth buffalo's eyes are significantly larger than those of the black buffalo. These three species are superficially similar to the common carp (Cyprinus carpio), but all lack the characteristic barbels.
The coloration of smallmouth buffalo ranges from shades of gray to brown and coppery green dorsally and pale yellow to white ventrally. Fin colors match the portion of the body they attach to and are generally darker towards the tips. They are characteristically stocky, having a hump that rises up from where the operculum sits. Pectoral fins protrude ventrally like the anal fins, the caudal fin has even lobes, and the dorsal fin protrudes from the top of the hump to a blunt point then shortens and runs the remaining length of the body to the base of the tail. Average adults reach a length of around 40–60 cm (16–24 in) with some specimens reaching as much as 90 cm (35 in).
The smallmouth buffalo is a hardy fish that frequents clear, moderate to fast-moving streams but has been occasionally known in some lakes and ponds. If prefers waters with dense aquatic vegetation and a silty bottom. It has a high tolerance for hard water and can survive in waters with pH ranges of 6.5–8.5.
The smallmouth buffalo's diet is primarily that of a detritivore, using its ventral sucker mouth to pick up vegetation and other organic matter from the bottom of its habitat, often scraping algae off of rocks. It is also quite the invertivore, consuming zooplankton, insect larvae, mollusk larvae and small crustaceans.
Spawning usually takes place in spring and summer with more specific timeframes depending on the location of the population. Migration is negligible. Spawning often occurs in shallower sections of streams where the egg can adhere to vegetation and gravel to keep from flowing away. Each female can lay tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of eggs at a time depending on her size, so no parental care is applied and the eggs hatch in one or two weeks. The young hide in aquatic vegetation to avoid predators. The average lifespan of a smallmouth buffalo is nine to eighteen years with males reaching sexual maturity in four to five years and females at around six years.
Although considered by many to be a rough fish, smallmouth buffalo is the most common commercially sold freshwater fish in the United States. The species is highly valued by some as a human food source and the fish meal is common in animal feed. They are relatively quick and easy to raise in commercial farm ponds. Anglers seeking to hook a smallmouth buffalo have found success with doughballs and corn on hooks.
Blue Sucker | Cycleptus elongatus
Color is variable, from light steel-gray to almost jet black in the spring. The fish is streamlined, with a pointed head and a subterminal mouth. The small head suggests in profile that of a horse. Early records indicate that this fish once reached weights of over 40 pounds (18 kg), although 15 pounds (6.8 kg) is quite rare today. Average lengths are 2 feet (0.61 m), the maximum being .93 metres (3 ft 1 in).
Huge migrations of these fast, powerful fish once migrated throughout the Mississippi River basin, and spring harvests of blue sucker were a staple food for early pioneers. Blue suckers are very rare today, thought to be due to the segmentation of habitat caused by the thousands of dams which have been built in the last century. Blues frequent the thalweg of large river systems, in heavy current.
- Gimenez Dixon (1996). Cycleptus elongatus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Cycleptus elongatus" in FishBase. November 2005 version.
- NatureServe - Cycleptus elongatus
- Fishes of Minnesota - Blue sucker
- roughfish.com - Blue sucker
- "Blackhorse". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.
American Alligator | Alligator mississippiensis
(Daudin, 1802 [originally Crocodilus])
|American Alligator range map|
The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator or common alligator, is a large crocodilian reptile endemic to the southeastern United States. It is one of two living species in the genus Alligator within the family Alligatoridae and larger than the other extant alligator species, the Chinese alligator. It is a species in which the males measure 3.4 m (11 ft) to 4.6 m (15 ft) in length, and can weigh 453 kg (1,000 lb). Females are smaller, measuring around 3 m (9.8 ft). The American alligator inhabits freshwater wetlands, such as marshes and cypress swamps from Texas to North Carolina. It is distinguished from the sympatric American crocodile by its broader snout, with overlapping jaws and darker coloration, and is less tolerant of seawater but more tolerant of cooler climates than the American crocodile which is found only in tropical climates.
Alligators are apex predators and consume fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Hatchlings feed mostly on invertebrates. Alligators also play important roles in wetland ecosystems through the creation of "alligator holes" which provide wetter or drier habitats for other organisms. During the breeding season, males bellow and use infrasound to attract females. Eggs are laid in a nest of vegetation, sticks, leaves, and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. Young are born with yellow bands around their bodies and are protected by their mother.
The American alligator is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Historially, hunting has decimated their population and the American alligator was listed as an endangered species by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Subsequent conservation efforts have allowed their numbers to increase and the species was removed from the list in 1987. Alligators are now harvested for their skins and meat. The species is the official state reptile of three states: Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
- Taxonomy and phylogeny
- Distribution and habitat
- Ecology and behavior
- Conservation status
- Relationships with humans
- See also
- External links
Taxonomy and phylogeny
The American alligator was first classified by French zoologist François Marie Daudin as Crocodilus mississipiensis in 1801. Georges Cuvier classified the genus Alligator in 1807. The American alligator shares this genus with the Chinese alligator. They are grouped in the family Alligatoridae with the caimans. The superfamily Alligatoroidea includes all crocodilians (fossil and extant) that are more closely related to the American alligator than to either the Nile crocodile or the gharial.
Members of this superfamily first arose in the Late Cretaceous. Leidyosuchus of Alberta is the earliest known genus. Fossil alligatoriods have been found throughout Eurasia as land bridges across both the North Atlantic and the Bering Strait have connected North America to Eurasia during the Cretaceous, Paleogene and Neogene periods. Alligators and caimans split in North America during the late Cretaceous and the latter reached South America by the Paleogene, before the closure of the Isthmus of Panama during the Neogene period. The Chinese alligator likely descended from a lineage that crossed the Bering land bridge, also during the Neogene. The modern American alligator is well represented in the fossil record of the Pleistocene. The alligator's full mitochondrial genome was sequenced in the 1990s and it suggests that animal evolved at a rate similar to mammals and more than birds and other cold-blooded vertebrates.
Wild alligators range from long and slender to short and robust, possibly due to variations in factors like growth rate, diet and climate. Alligators have broad snouts, especially in captive individuals. When the jaws are closed, the edge of the upper jaws covers the lower teeth which fit into the jaws' depressions. Like the spectacled caiman, this species has a bony nasal ridge, though it is less prominent. The teeth number from 74–84. Dorsally, adult alligators may be olive, brown, gray or black in color while their undersides are cream colored.
Some alligators are missing an inhibited gene for melanin, which makes them albino. These alligators are extremely rare and almost impossible to find in the wild. They could survive only in captivity as they are very vulnerable to the sun and predators.
The American alligator is a fairly large species of crocodilian, with males reaching an average maximum size of 4.6 m (15 ft) in length, weighing up to 453 kg (1,000 lb), while females grow to a maximum of 3 m (9.8 ft). Occasionally, a large, old male may measure longer. There have been reports during the 19th and 20th centuries of larger males reaching 5 to 6 m (16 to 20 ft). The largest reported size was a male killed in 1890 on Marsh Island, Louisiana and reportedly measured at 5.8 m (19 ft) in length but no voucher specimen was available since the alligator was left on a muddy bank after having been taped due to having been too massive to relocate. If the size of this animal was correct, it would have weighed around 1,000 kg (2,200 lb). The largest alligator shot in Florida was 5.31 m (17.4 ft), as reported by the Everglades National Park. However on average, American alligators do not reach such extreme sizes. In males, size averages at around 3.4 to 4 m (11 to 13 ft) in length, weighing slightly in excess of 227 kg (500 lb), while in smaller females, it averages 2.7 m (8.9 ft), weighing slightly in excess of 91 kg (200 lb). Weight varies depending on length, age, health, season and available food sources. Similar to other reptiles, American alligators from the northern end of their range, such as southern Arkansas, Alabama, and northern North Carolina, tend to grow to smaller sizes. The largest alligator caught in Alabama was only 3.86 m (12.7 ft) in length, weighing 306.2 kg (675 lb).
When on land, the alligator moves either by sprawling or walking, the latter involving the reptile lifting its belly off the ground. The sprawling of alligators and other crocodilians is not identical to the sprawling of salamanders and lizards, being similar to walking. Thus the two forms of territorial locomotion can be term the "low walk" and the "high walk". Unlike most another land vertebrates, alligators increase their speed through the distal rather than proximal ends of their limbs. In the water, alligators swim like fish; moving their pelvic regions and tails from side to side. American alligators held the record as having the strongest laboratory-measured bite of any living animal, measured at up to 9,452 newtons (2,125 lbf) in laboratory conditions. It should be noted that this experiment had not at the time of the paper published been replicated in any other crocodilians and the same laboratory was able to measure a greater bite force in saltwater crocodiles. During respiration, airflow is unidirectional; looping through the lungs during inhalation and exhalation.
Distribution and habitat
American alligators are only found in the Southeastern United States, from Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina, south to Everglades National Park in Florida and west to the southern tip of Texas. They are found in the U.S. states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. Alligators inhabit swamps, streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. Females and juveniles are also found in Carolina Bays and other seasonal wetlands. While they prefer freshwater, alligators sometimes enter more brackish water. However they are less tolerant of saltwater than crocodiles as the salt glands on their tongues are non-functioning. One study of alligators in north-central Florida found that males preferred open lake water during the spring while females used both swampy and open water areas. During summer, males still preferred open water while females stuck to the swamps to construct their nests and lay their eggs. Both sexes may den underneath banks or clumps of trees during the winter.
American alligators are less vulnerable to cold than American crocodiles. Unlike the crocodile, which would immediately succumb to the cold and drown in water of 45 °F (7.2 °C), an alligator can survive in such temperatures for some time without any signs of discomfort. It is thought that this adaptiveness is the reason why American alligators spread farther north than the American crocodile. In fact, the American alligator is found farther from the equator and is more equipped to deal with cooler conditions than any other crocodilian. When the water begins to freeze, alligators stick their snouts though the surface which allows them to breathe above the ice.
Ecology and behavior
Alligators modify some wetland habitat, in flat areas such as the Everglades, by constructing small ponds known as "alligator holes". These create wetter or drier habitats for other organisms, such as plants, fish, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. In the limestone depressions of cypress swamps, alligator holes tend to be large and deep while those in marl prairies and rocky glades are usually small and shallow and those in peat depressions of ridge and slough wetlands are more variable. Man-made holes do not appear to have as large an effect. Alligators also may control the long term vegetation dynamics in wetlands by reducing the population of small mammals, particularly nutria, which may otherwise over-graze marsh vegetation. In this way, they provide a vital ecological service that may be important in reducing rates of coastal wetland losses in Louisiana.
Hunting and diet
The American alligator is considered the apex predator throughout its range. They are opportunists and their diet is determined largely by both the size and age of the predating alligator and the size and availability of prey. Most alligators will eat a wide variety of animals, including invertebrates, fish, birds, turtles, snakes, amphibians and mammals, in their life cycle. Hatchlings mostly feed on invertebrates such as insects, larvae, snails, spiders, and worms. As they grow, alligators gradually move on to larger prey. Once an alligator reaches adulthood, any animal living in the water or coming to the water to drink is potential prey, due to the size and power of the alligator. However, most animals captured by alligators are considerably smaller than the alligator itself. Stomach contents show that, amongst native mammals, muskrats and raccoons are some of the most commonly eaten species. In Louisiana, where introduced nutria (a large aquatic rodent) are common, they are perhaps the most regular prey for adult alligators, although it is only larger adults alligators that commonly eat this species.
Other animals may occasionally be eaten, even large deer or feral wild boars, but these are not normally part of the diet. Occasionally, domestic animals, including dogs and calves, are taken as available but are secondary to wild and feral prey.Water birds, such as herons and egrets, storks and waterfowl, are taken when possible. Occasionally, unwary adult birds are grabbed and eaten by alligators, but most predation on bird occurs on unsteady fledgling birds in late summer as they attempt to make their first flights near the water's edge. Other prey, including snakes, lizards and various invertebrates are eaten occasionally by adults.
Fish and other aquatic prey taken in the water or at the water edge form the major part of alligator's diet and may be eaten at any time of the day or night. Adult alligators also spend considerable time hunting on land, up to 50 m (170 feet) from water, ambushing terrestrial animals on trailsides and road shoulders. Usually, terrestrial hunting occurs on nights with warm temperatures. When hunting terrestrial prey, alligators may also ambush them from the edge of the water by grabbing them and pulling the prey into the water, the preferred method of predation of larger crocodiles. The teeth of the alligator are designed to grip prey but can not rip or chew flesh like dentition of some other predators (such as canids and felids). The alligator is capable of biting though a turtle's shell or a moderately sized mammal bone.
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The breeding season begins in the spring. Although alligators have no vocal cords, males bellow loudly to attract mates and warn off other males during this time by sucking air into their lungs and blowing it out in intermittent, deep-toned roars. Male alligators are also known to use infrasound during their mating behavior. One of their routines is to engage in bellowing at this frequency while their head and tail are above the water. With their midsection very slightly submerged, they cause the surface of the water that is directly over and to either side of their back to literally "sprinkle" from their infrasound bellowing, in a so-called "water dance". Recently it was discovered that on spring nights alligators gather in large numbers for group courtship, the so-called "alligator dances".
The female builds a nest of vegetation, sticks, leaves, and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. After she lays her 20 to 50 white eggs, about the size of a goose egg, she covers them with more vegetation, which heats as it decays, helping to keep the eggs warm. This differs from Nile crocodiles which lay their eggs in pits.
The temperature at which alligator eggs develop determines their sex (see temperature-dependent sex determination). Those eggs which are hatched at a temperature of 34 °C (93 °F) or more become males, while those at a temperature of 30 °C (86 °F) or lower become female. The nests built on levees are warmer and thus produce males while the cooler nests of wet marsh produce females. The female will remain near the nest throughout the 65-day incubation period, protecting it from intruders. When the young begin to hatch the mother quickly digs them out and carries them to the water in her mouth.
The young are tiny replicas of adult alligators with a series of yellow bands around their bodies that serve as camouflage. Hatchlings gather into pods and are guarded by their mother and keep in contact with her through vocalizations. High-pitched "yelping" distress calls (a trait common to many crocodilian species' hatchling young) signal danger and the mother will rush to their aid, and can rarely even be heard from hatchlings a short time before they break free from their eggs. Hisses signal aggression and non-distressed grunts keep each hatchling in contact with each other. Young alligators eat small fish, frogs, crayfish and insects. They are themselves preyed on by large fish, birds, raccoons and adult alligators. Mother alligators eventually become more aggressive towards their young, which encourages them to disperse. Young alligators grow 3–8 in (7.6–20 cm) a year and reach adulthood at 6 ft (1.8 m). An alligator can live up to 30 to 50 years.
Interactions with exotic species
Nutria were introduced into coastal marshes from South America in the mid-1900s, and since then their population has exploded into the millions. They cause serious damage to coastal marshes and may dig burrows in levees. Hence, Louisiana has had a bounty to try to reduce nutria numbers. Large alligators, however, feed heavily on nutria, and thus alligators may not only control nutria populations in Louisiana, but prevent them spreading east into the Everglades. Since hunting and trapping preferentially take the large alligators that are the most important in eating nutria, some changes in harvesting may be needed to capitalize on the ability of alligators to control nutria.
Recently, a population of non-native Burmese Pythons has become established in Everglades National Park. While there have been observed events of predation by Burmese pythons on alligators and vice versa, there is currently no evidence of a net negative effect on alligator populations.
Historically, hunting and habitat loss has decimated alligator populations throughout their range, and it was doubted as to whether the species would survive. In 1967, the alligator was listed as an endangered species (under a law that was the precursor Endangered Species Act of 1973), since it was believed to be in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
Both the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and state wildlife agencies in the South contributed to the American alligator's recovery. Protection under the Endangered Species Act allowed the species to recuperate in many areas where it had been depleted. States begin monitoring their alligator populations to ensure that they would continue to grow. In 1987, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed the animal from the endangered species list as it was considered to be fully recovered. The Fish and Wildlife Service still regulates the legal trade in alligators and their products to protect still endangered crocodilians that may be passed off as alligators during trafficking.
Relationships with humans
Attacks on humans
Alligators are capable of killing humans, but are generally wary enough not to see them as a potential prey. Mistaken identity leading to an attack is always possible, especially in or near cloudy waters. Alligators are often less aggressive towards humans than large crocodile species, a few of which (mainly the Nile and Saltwater Crocodiles) may prey on humans with some regularity. Alligator bites are serious injuries due to the reptile's sheer bite force and risk of infection. Even with medical treatment, an alligator bite may still result in a fatal infection.
As human populations increase, and as they build houses in low lying areas, or hunt and fish near water, there are inevitably incidents where alligators threaten, or at least appear to threaten, human life. Humans tend to exaggerate causes of death that seem unusual. Hence, alligators receive undue attention relative to other far more common causes of death such as drowning or car accidents. Since 1948, there have been 275 documented attacks on humans in Florida (that is, about five incidents per year), of which at least 17 resulted in death. There were only nine fatal attacks in the US throughout the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, but alligators killed 12 people between 2001 and 2007. In May 2006, alligators killed three Floridians in less than a week.
Since the late 1880s, Alligator wrestling has been a source of great entertainment for residents of the northern USA (and elsewhere) when visiting the hot subtropical climates of the Gulf Coast and southeast States. Created by the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes prior to the arrival of Europeans, this tourism tradition continues to the present day despite criticism from animal rights activists.
Alligator farming is a big and growing industry in Georgia, Florida, Texas and Louisiana. These states produce a combined annual total of some 45,000 alligator hides. Alligator hides bring good prices and hides in the 6 to 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 m) range have sold for $300 each. The market for alligator meat is growing and approximately 300,000 pounds (140,000 kg) of meat is produced annually. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, raw alligator meat contains roughly 200 calories (840 kJ) per 3 ounces (85 g) serving size, of which 27 calories (130 kJ) come from fat.
The American alligator is the official state reptile of three states: Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. In addition, Gators has been the nickname of the University of Florida's sports teams since 1911. In that year, a printer made a spur-of-the-moment decision to print an alligator emblem on a shipment of the school's football pennants; the mascot stuck, perhaps because the team captain's nickname was Gator.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Alligator mississippiensis|
- Crocodilian Online
- Photo exhibit on alligators in Florida; from State Archives of Florida
- Why the Gulf Coast needs more big alligators
- U.S. Fishery and Wildlife Service – alligator bellows and hisses
- American Alligator at care-sheet.com (WikiPets)
Atlantic Needlefish Gyotaku by Inked Animal
Info via Wikipedia:
Strongylura marina, known commonly as the Atlantic needlefish, is a common bottom-water needlefish species common in marinas and other areas with minimal current. Its extremely long jaw and body set this fish apart from other predators.
Strongylura marina is found along western Atlantic coastal waters from Maine to southern Brazil, including areas along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Atlantic needlefish are not restricted to ocean waters; they can be found in various estuaries and are capable of ascending well upstream into freshwater. S. marina is found in shallow waters throughout the Chesapeake Bay. In Texas, S. marina is known to inhabit the following drainage units: Sabine Lake (including minor coastal drainages west to Galveston Bay), Galveston Bay (including minor coastal drainages west to mouth of Brazos River), Brazos River, Colorado River, San Antonio Bay (including minor coastal drainages west of mouth of Colorado River to mouth of Nueces River), Nueces River.S. marina has also been introduced and now inhabits parts of the Tennessee River drainage throughout Alabama and Tennessee.
The predators of S. marina include larger piscivorous fish such as the Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus). There are also less common predators that include S. marina in their diet such as the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and juvenile lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris). Since they are surface swimmers, S. marina are also preyed upon by some birds. The competitors of S. marina include similar sized piscivorous fish species such as bonefish. Although the maximum salinity of Strongylura marina is 36.9 ppt, they are able to adapt to a wide range of salinities, regularly venturing into fresh water.
Spawning typically occurs in late spring and summer. In Texas, near ripe females have been reported in February. Females lay eggs that have many long filamentous tendrils which attach to floating vegetation or other submerged objects and organisms. S. marina reaches reproductive maturity two years after being born. Spawning activity occurs in shallow inshore habitats with submerged algal masses.
S. marina is not currently considered to be a threatened species. It is not of high commercial importance, but there is a fishery for it and it is sometimes taken as bycatch. Sport fishermen take it by angling and seining, and then use it as bait.
Other common names for the fish include agujon, billfish, bluebone, garfish, green gar, harvest pike, northern needlefish, saltwater gar, sea pike, and silver gar.
- Foster, N. R. 1974. Strongylura marina-Atlantic Needlefish. Manual for identification of early developmental stages of fishes of the Potomac River estuary. Environmental Technology Center, Marietta Corp., Baltimore, Md. 125-126.
- Collette, B B. 1968. Strongylura timucu (Wallbaum) - A valid species of Western Atlantic needlefish. Copeia 1: 189-192.
- Berry, F. H. & Rivas, L. R. 1962. Data on six species of needlefishes (Belonidae) from the western Atlantic. Copeia 1962:152-160.
- Warren, M.L. Jr., B.M. Burr, S. J. Walsh, H.L. Bart Jr., R. C. Cashner, D.A. Etnier, B. J. Freeman, B.R. Kuhajda, R.L. Mayden, H. W. Robison, S.T. Ross & W. C. Starnes. 2000. Diversity, distribution and conservation status of the native freshwater fishes of the southern United States. Fisheries 25:7-29.
- Boschung, H. T. 1992. Catalogue of freshwater and marine fishes of Alabama. Alabama Museum of Natural History Bulletin 14:1-266.
- Carr, W. E. S. & Adam, C. A. 1973. Food habits of juvenile marine fishes occupying seagrass beds in the estuarine zone near Crystal River, Florida. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 102:511-540.
- Carr, E. S. & Clayton A. Food habits of juvenile marine fishes occupying seagrass beds in the estuarine zone near Crystal River, Florida. Trans. of the American Fisheries Sciences 102: 511-540.
- Hardy, J. D, Jr. 1978. Development of fishes of the mid-Atlantic bight. Vol. II. Anguillidae through Syngnathidae. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Biological Service Program: pp 458.
- Gunter G. 1942. Contributions to the natural history of the bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus (Montague), on the Texas coast, with particular reference to food habits. Journal of Mammalogy 23:267-276.
- Collen, B., et al. (Sampled Red List Index Coordinating Team) 2010. Strongylura marina. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. Downloaded on 06 June 2013.
- Strongylura marina Smithsonian Marine station at Fort Pierce
Guadalupe Bass | Micropterus treculii
We’ve printed this species before – see our previous versions with a different specimen. We figured we’d try it again after running across this beautiful specimen in Brushy Creek just north of Austin. See the photo below. It’s colors and patterns have changed a bit since we collected it. At that time it had some of the vertical barring typical of Guadalupe bass.
I really like the look of specimens with ink on them. All color is hidden and you start to notice things you wouldn’t otherwise. In this case the ink and the angle of the reflecting light allows you to see the individual scales in great detail. Notice how small the cheek scales are compared to the body scales. I recently learned that this is a good character for distinguishing Guadalupe bass and spotted bass from the largemouth bass which has cheek scales similar in size to the body scales.
Alligator Gar | Atractosteus spatula
We have to give some credit to Robby Maxwell here. He aided with both the capture and immortalization of this beast. It wasn’t the largest Alligator gar we’d seen, but large enough and a great time to catch. Robby, myself, and a large Texas State University crew wrangled this specimen as part of my master’s thesis working on the Brazos River watershed, Texas. He’ll have to confirm, but I believe we caught this in the winter of 2008 in Brazos Bend State Park under the watchful gaze of park authority and many reptilian versions of alligators. This gyotaku print will surely be popular among many fish fanatics that I know who, justifiably so, respect the hell out of this fish. This species is known to get massive, one of the largest freshwater predators in the world. Its even been featured on River Monsters I believe. Its also a very old lineage of fish with a special version of a circulatory system that relies on oxygen brought in not just through its gills, but also through its toothy mug into its air bladder where gas exchange occurs. For this reason, gar are one of those few fish that you can actually drown!
Alligator Gar info via Wikipedia:
|captive Alligator Gar|
Lepisosteus spatula Lacépède, 1803
The Alligator Gar ("Gator Gar"), Atractosteus spatula, is a primitive ray-finned fish. Unlike other Gars, the mature Alligator Gar possesses a dual row of large teeth in the upper jaw. Its name derives from the alligator-like appearance of these teeth along with the fish's elongated snout. The dorsal surface of the Alligator Gar is a brown or olive color, while the ventral surface tends to be lighter. Their scales are diamond-shaped and interlocking (ganoid) and are sometimes used by Native Americans for jewelry and arrow heads.
Along with its status as the largest species of Gar, the Alligator Gar is the largest exclusively freshwater fish found in North America, measuring 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3.0 m) and weighing at least 200 lb (91 kg) at maturity. The largest Alligator Gar caught by net was caught by Kenny Williams, from Vicksburg, Mississippi, in February 2011, and measured 8 ft 5 in (2.57 m) long, 327 lb (148 kg) in weight, and nearly 48 in (120 cm) around. The fish is believed to have been between 50 and 70 years old, wildlife officials said. Williams has donated the fish to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson where it will be on permanent display in the future. The current world record for the largest Alligator Gar caught on rod and reel is 279 lb (127 kg).[Note 1] The largest taken by bowfishing is 365 lb (166 kg).[Note 2] The fish is also known for its ability to survive outside the water, being able to last for up to two hours above the surface.
Alligator Gar are found in the Lower Mississippi River Valley and Gulf Coast states of the Southern United States and Mexico as far south as Veracruz, encompassing the following US states: Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, and Georgia. They have also been known historically to come as far north as central Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Iowa, and west-central Illinois, where the most northerly verified catch was at Meredosia, Illinois in 1922 and an 8.5 ft (2.6 m) specimen, now preserved, was caught at nearby Beardstown. Specimens at locations further south in Illinois have been verified as recently as 1976, with the Illinois Academy of Sciences verifying a total of 122 captures to that date. They inhabit sluggish pools and backwaters or large rivers, bayous, and lakes. They are found in fresh, brackish and saltwater, and are more adaptable to the latter than other gars. In Louisiana it is common to see these large gar striking the surface in brackish marshes.
Outside natural range
There have been few notable sightings of Alligator Gar outside North America.
In February 2007, a 1.5 m (4.9 ft) Alligator Gar was allegedly found swimming in Jakarta, Indonesia, when that city was hit by a major flood (see External Links below). In January 2008, a 3 kg (6.6 lb) alligator gar was found by fishermen in Bera, Pahang, Malaysia, when it was entangled in a fishing net.
In November 2008, a 0.5 to 0.6 m (1.6 to 2.0 ft) long Alligator gar was caught in the north of Esenguly, Turkmenistan by two officials of Turkmenistan Fishery Protection. Dr. R. Mayden, Saint Louis University and Dr. Eric Hilton, Virginia Institute of Marine Science confirmed that it was probably Atractosteus spatula.
On September 4, 2009 a 1 m (3.3 ft) long Alligator Gar was found in Tak Wah Park in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong. In the next two days, at least 16 other Alligator Gars, with the largest one measuring 1.5 m (4.9 ft) long, were found in ponds in public parks in Hong Kong. As reported by nearby residents, the fish were released in the ponds by aquarium hobbyists and had lived there for some years. However, after a complaint made by a citizen who falsely identified the fish as crocodiles, terms like "Horrible Man-eating Fish" were found in the headlines of some major local newspapers. Government officials decided to remove all the fish from the ponds as they claimed the species had no conservation value and would affect the local ecology if left in the ponds. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said it would offer non-dangerous fish to animal welfare groups and charities. The fish that was caught first died later that day, and claims have been made that the local government does not treat the gars in an animal-friendly way - they were seen catching the fish with improvised nets and garbage cans. On September 6 the government euthanized all of the fish as it said that there were no organizations willing to take them. On September 8 however, the Hong Kong Ocean Park announced that it was willing to take the fish for exhibition and education to the public. Five surviving gars, caught on September 7, were sent to the Ocean Park.
On January 21, 2011, 1.5 m (4.9 ft) Alligator Gar was caught at a canal in Pasir Ris, Singapore by two recreational fishermen. The fish was taken to a nearby pond where the owner confirmed it as an Alligator Gar, not an Arapaima as the men initially thought.
Alligator Gars have also recently become "trophy" fish for private aquariums, particularly in Japan. In June 2011, a group of men from Florida and Louisiana were indicted on charges of illegally removing wild gar from the Trinity River in Texas and attempting to ship the fish to Japan at the behest of private collectors. It is alleged that the largest of the fish could have fetched $40,000 in the Japanese black market.
The Alligator Gar is a relatively passive, solitary fish that lives in fresh and brackish water bodies in the Southern United States It is carnivorous and feeds by lurking amongst reeds and other vegetation, ambushing prey. Alligator gar have often been suspected in attacks on humans[unreliable source?], but none of these attacks has been officially confirmed to be the work of this species.
Though the Alligator Gar prefers slow-moving waters of rivers, bayous, and oxbows throughout most of the year, it appears to need spring time inundated floodplain fields or wetland vegetation in order to spawn. Their eggs are very poisonous.
Until relatively recently all gars have generally been classified in the genus Lepisosteus Lacépède, 1803. The Alligator Gar had been given the name Atractosteus adamantinus by the eccentric Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz in 1818, and for a long time Atractosteus was simply viewed as a junior synonym of Lepisosteus. E. O. Wiley resurrected this genus in 1976, in his work The phylogeny and biogeography of fossil and Recent Gars.
Based on Wiley's work, after 1976 the Gars were officially split into Lepisosteus and Atractosteus, and ever since then zoos, aquarium books, anglers, and so on have been gradually catching up with the proper terminology.
Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana allow regulated sport fishing of the Alligator Gar.
The fish is popular amongst bowfishers because of its size and tendency to brawl. An interesting anatomical feature of this fish is that its buoyancy bladder is directly connected to its throat, giving it the ability to draw in air from above the water. For this reason, Alligator Gar are often found near the surface of a body of water.
In several Southern U.S. states, Alligator Gar are served in restaurants and considered a delicacy or novelty food akin to the American Alligator or crocodile.
Despite their large adult size, Alligator Gar are kept as aquarium fish, although many fish labelled as "Alligator Gar" in the aquarium trade are actually smaller species. This fish requires a very large aquarium or pond and ample resources to keep. They are also popular fish for public aquariums. True Gars are illegal as pets in multiple areas but will occasionally show up in fish stores.
- Caught by Bill Valverde, January 1, 1951, Rio Grande, Texas.
- Caught by Kirk Kirkland, 1991, in Texas.
- "Vicksburg Man Catches 327 Lb. Alligator Gar". WAPT News. February 18, 2011.
- "State Freshwater Records: Rod and Reel". Texas Parks & Wildlife. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Alligator Gar". Texas Fishing Guides. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Alligator Gar Technical Committee". Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- Poly, William J. (2001). "Distribution of the Alligator Gar, Atractosteus spatula (Lacépède, 1803), in Illinois". Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science 94 (3): 185–190.
- "Hazar Deňziniň Türkmen Kenarynda Amerikan Sowutly Çortanyň Tutulmagynyň Ilkinji Wakasy" (in Turkish). Türkmenistanyò Tebigaty goramak ministrligi. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Monster exotic fish found in Hong Kong ponds". AFP. September 5, 2009.
- Nip, Amy (September 6, 2009). "Dumped fish prove to be slippery customers during pond clearance". South China Morning Post.
- "LCSD and AFCD respond to alligator gar incident". Government of Hong Kong. September 6, 2009.
- "Friends catch 1.5m 'monster' fish from Pasir Ris canal after long struggle". The Straits Times. January 21, 2011.
- Horswell, Cindy (June 17, 2011). "Indictments accuse 3 of taking alligator gar fish out of Trinity". Houston Chronicle.
- "Alligator Gar Life History and Descriptions". Alligator Gar Ad Hoc Technical Committee. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- Alligator Gar. "Alligator Gar Information". TheJump.net. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Lepisosteus spatula". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Lepisosteus spatula" in FishBase. October 2005 version.
- Lacepède, B. G. E. (1803). Histoire Naturelle des Poissons.
- Rafinesque, C. S. (1820). "Ichthyologia Ohiensis (Part 8)". The Western Review and Miscellaneous Magazine: 165-173.
- Wiley, E. O. (1976). "The phylogeny and biogeography of fossil and Recent gars (Actinopterygii: Lepisosteidae)". Museum of Natural History University of Kansas Miscellaneous Publication 64: 1-111.
- "Atractosteus, a genus-name authored by C.S. Rafinesque". University of Evansville. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula)". Texas Parks and Wildlife. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- Spitzer, Mark (2010). Season of the Gar: Adventures in Pursuit of America's Most Misunderstood Fish. University of Arkansas Press.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Atractosteus spatula|
- Alligator Gar Ad hoc Technical Committee. Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society.
- "Alligator Gar". The Fort Worth Zoo.
- Thomas, Pete (June 21, 2012). "Texas fisherman prevails in epic battle with enormous alligator gar". GrindTV.
Guadalupe Bass | Micropterus treculii
The state fish of Texas! Since 1989. This baby is one of around 10(?) bass in America, and is only found in central Texas. Adam and I have collected fish together all over the state, and at least for me, this fish is one of those that when you catch it, you appreciate it. Especially a decent size one like this specimen. This fish is special for many reasons, among them is that its only found in Texas, and its in danger of being bred out by the native spotted (Micropterus punctulatus) and large mouth (Micropterus salmoides) basses as well as the invasive small mouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu). Texas Parks and Wildlife department list it as a State Threatened fish.
I think the Guadalupe Bass should be the grand prize of any freshwater fisherman in Texas. I’ve got a good friend with a fly fishing blog specializing in central Texas fishing, he has many maps and posts about catching this special fish. Check him out at diefische.
We hope you like our Gyotaku of the Guadalupe Bass. Notice the detail of the scales behind the eye, good stuff. This is our only one for the G.bass so far, and we’re determined to do some more with other specimens once they’re caught. We still need to get an open mouth bass print! But that will probably be reserved for the large mouth….which is also still to come.
Guadalupa Bass info via Wikipedia:
(Vaillant & Bocourt, 1883)
The Guadalupe bass (Micropterus treculii) is a rare species of fish endemic to the U.S. state of Texas, where it also is the official state fish. It is restricted to creeks and rivers (including the Guadalupe River, hence the name Guadalupe bass), and was formerly listed as vulnerable, but IUCN currently considers the data insufficient to determine its status. Today, most fly fishermen and anglers practice catch-and-release techniques to improve fish populations. The Guadalupe bass is often difficult to distinguish from the smallmouth bass or spotted bass, and the first is known to hybridize.
Description and range 
Guadalupe bass, like most black bass, are lime to olive green in color; this particular species being lighter in shade: usually in river specimens. They have a lateral line covered in mostly separate diamond shaped or circular spots; which with age fades from black to olive. There are also many smaller diamond marks scattered on the back which are less distinguished than the ones on the lateral line. Its physical traits are very similar to the spotted bass (i.e. small mouth that doesn't extend past the eye, sleek figure, etc.) with one exception: the green coloring tends to extend lower on the body past the lateral line than their cousins. So far the record is 3.69 lbs (3 lbs 11 oz.), caught by Allen Christenson in 1983. The fish is only found in Edward's Plateau in central Texas. Its main habitats are the San Marcos, Colorado, and Guadalupe rivers. They can also be found in run-off creeks such as Barton Creek, Onion Creek, San Gabriel river, and The Comal river. The species has also been farm raised and stocked in the Llano river.
Threats and predators 
The Guadalupe bass has almost no predators. In fact its main threat is not predation, but hybridization with the introduced smallmouth bass. The two species are very closely related and in some rivers almost half the Guads are hybrids. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. stated it will likely stock many bass in the future to beat out the hybrid population. This will be a pilot for several other areas where rare spotted bass sub-species are having the same problems.
Typically, Guadalupe bass are found in streams and reservoirs; absent from extreme headwaters. The Guadalupe bass prefer flowing waters of streams within native variety, and use covers like large rocks, cypress knees or stumps for refugee.
The fish (especially juveniles and very old fish), unlike other bass, have an inclination towards insects. Guadalupe bass at their predatory peak prefer larger bait fish such as shad and small bass or bluegill.
While almost unheard of elsewhere, the Guadalupe bass is very popular among fisherman in central Texas. It is cherished for its long tough fights, in which it manipulates the current and its unusually strong muscles, and beautiful colors which tend to be more natural and bright than those of spotted bass. Its preference for strong current and its large diet of insects earned it the name "Texas Trout" and made it popular for fly fishermen. It fights similarly to both smallmouth bass and Rainbow Trout—making long runs and manipulating current, but also making sharp turns and attempting to entangle the line on structures, and even making large jumps like both species. Altogether, it makes a very satisfying fight, and it can be difficult and extremely fun to land a 2+ lb. fish.
If fishing in a larger river, one will most likely find large fish in deep pools with some current, scavenging off whatever the current brings; and in the shallows, looking for fry, bait fish, frogs, the occasional rodent, and hatching insects if in the right season. Smaller fish are found in fast current behind riffles, eating passing nymphs that were sucked in and small minnows eating the same. Due to their preference for small fish and insects, fly fisherman are at a large advantage.
- FishBase: Micropterus treculii
- ITIS ID=168162
- Gimenez Dixon, M. 1996. Micropterus treculi. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 4 August 2007.
- "Guadalupe Bass (Micropterus Treculii)." Texas Parks & Wildlife Department | Welcome. Web. 21 Dec. 2010. <http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/gdb/>.