Striped bass


Striped bass 2



Striped bass 1

Striped bass | Morone saxatilis

Striped bass info via Wikipedia:

Striped bass
Morone saxatilis SI2.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Moronidae
Genus: Morone
Species: M. saxatilis
Binomial name
Morone saxatilis
(Walbaum, 1792)
Morone saxatilis range.png
  • Perca saxatilis Walbaum, 1792
  • Roccus saxatilis (Walbaum, 1792)
  • Sciaena lineata Bloch, 1792
  • Morone lineatus (Bloch, 1792)
  • Roccus lineatus (Bloch, 1792)
  • Perca mitchilli alternata Mitchill, 1815

The striped bass (Morone saxatilis), also called Atlantic striped bass, striper, linesider, rock, or rockfish, is an anadromous Perciforme fish of the family Moronidae found primarily along the Atlantic coast of North America. It has also been widely introduced into inland recreational fisheries across the United States. Striped bass found in the Gulf of Mexico are a separate strain referred to as Gulf Coast striped bass.[2]

The striped bass is the state fish of Maryland, Rhode Island, and South Carolina, and the state saltwater (marine) fish of New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and New Hampshire.

The history of the striped bass fishery in North America dates back to the Colonial period. Many written accounts by some of the first European settlers describe the immense abundance of striped bass, along with alewives, traveling and spawning up most rivers in the coastal Northeast.[3]

Morphology and lifespan

The striped bass is a typical member of the Moronidae family in shape, having a streamlined, silvery body marked with longitudinal dark stripes running from behind the gills to the base of the tail. Common mature size is 8 to 40 pounds. The largest specimen recorded was 124 pounds, netted in 1896. Striped bass are believed to live for up to 30 years.[4] The maximum length is 1.8 m (5.9 ft).[5] The average size is about 67–100 cm (2.20–3.28 ft).


A researcher holding up a large striped bass

Natural distribution

Striped bass are native to the Atlantic coastline of North America from the St. Lawrence River into the Gulf of Mexico to approximately Louisiana. They are anadromous fish that migrate between fresh and salt water. Spawning takes place in fresh water.

Introductions outside their natural range

Striped bass have been introduced to the Pacific Coast of North America and into many of the large reservoir impoundments across the United States by state game and fish commissions for the purposes of recreational fishing and as a predator to control populations of gizzard shad.[6][7][8] These include: Elephant Butte Lake in New Mexico; Lake Ouachita, Lake Norman in North Carolina; Lake Norfork, Beaver Lake and Lake Hamilton in Arkansas; Lake Thunderbird in Illinois; Lake Pleasant, and Lake Havasu in Arizona; Lake Powell along the Arizona/Utah border; Castaic Lake, Pyramid Lake, Silverwood Lake, Diamond Valley Lake, and San Francisco Bay-Delta in California; Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama;[9]Lake Cumberland in Kentucky; Lake George in Florida; Lake Murray in South Carolina; Lake Lanier in Georgia; Watts Bar Lake, in Tennessee; Lake Mead, Nevada; Lake Texoma, Lake Tawakoni, Lake Whitney, Possum Kingdom Lake, and Lake Buchanan in Texas; Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania; Umpqua River in Oregon and in Virginia's Smith Mountain Lake[10] and Leesville Lake.[11]

Striped bass have also been introduced into waters in Ecuador, Iran, Latvia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey, primarily for sport fishing and aquaculture.[4]

Environmental factors

The spawning success of striped bass has been studied in the San Francisco Bay-Delta water system, with a finding that high total dissolved solids (TDS) reduce spawning. At levels as low as 200 mg/l TDS, an observable diminution of spawning productivity occurs.[12] They can be found in lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands.

Though the population of striped bass was growing and repopulating in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, a study executed by the Wildlife and Fisheries Program at West Virginia University found that the rapid growth of the striped bass population was exerting a tremendous pressure on its prey (river herring, shad, and blueback herring). This pressure on their food source was putting their own population at risk due to the population of prey naturally not coming back to the same spawning areas.[13]

In the United States, the striped bass was designated as a protected game fish in 2007, and executive agencies were directed to use existing legal authorities to prohibit the sale of striped bass caught in federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.[14]

In Canada, the province of Quebec designated the striped bass population of the Saint Lawrence as extirpated in 1996. Analysis of available data implicated overfishing and dredging in the disappearance. In 2002, a reintroduction program was successful.[15][16]


A striped bass caught off the New Jersey coast
Preserved specimen
X-ray image

Striped bass spawn in fresh water, and although they have been successfully adapted to freshwater habitat, they naturally spend their adult lives in saltwater (i.e., they are anadromous). Four important bodies of water with breeding stocks of striped bass are: Chesapeake Bay, Massachusetts Bay/Cape Cod, Hudson River, and Delaware River. Many of the rivers and tributaries that emptied into the Atlantic, had at one time, bred stock of striped bass. This occurred until the 1860s.[3] One of the largest breeding areas is the Chesapeake Bay, where populations from Chesapeake and Delaware bays have intermingled.[17] The very few successful spawning populations of freshwater striped bass include Lake Texoma, Lake Weiss (Coosa River), the Colorado River and its reservoirs downstream from and including Lake Powell, and the Arkansas River, as well as Lake Marion (South Carolina) that retained a landlocked breeding population when the dam was built; other freshwater fisheries must be restocked with hatchery-produced fish annually. Stocking of striped bass was discontinued at Lake Mead in 1973 once natural reproduction was verified.[18]

Hybrids with other bass

Striped bass have also been hybridized with white bass to produce hybrid striped bass also known as wiper, whiterock bass, sunshine bass, palmetto bass, and Cherokee bass. These hybrids have been stocked in many freshwater areas across the US.[19][20]

Fishing for striped bass

Striped bass are of significant value for sport fishing, and have been introduced to many waterways outside their natural range. A variety of angling methods are used, including trolling and surf casting with topwater lures a good pick for surf casting, as well as bait casting with live and dead bait. Striped bass will take a number of live and fresh baits, including bunker, clams, eels, sandworms, herring, bloodworms, mackerel, and shad, bluegills, worms, crayfish, bucktails jigs, silver spoons, and sassy shad baits with the last being an excellent bait for freshwater fishing.

The largest striped bass ever taken by angling was an 81.88-lb (37.14-kg) specimen taken from a boat in Long Island Sound, near the Outer Southwest Reef, off the coast of Westbrook, Connecticut. The all-tackle world record fish was taken by Gregory Myerson[21] on the night of August 4, 2011. The fish took a drifted live eel bait, and fought for 20 minutes before being boated by Myerson. A second hook and leader was discovered in the fish's mouth when it was boated, indicating it had been previously hooked by another angler. The fish measured 54 in length and had a girth of 36 in. The International Game Fish Association declared Myerson's catch the new all-tackle world record striped bass on October 19, 2011.[22] In addition to now holding the All-Tackle record, Meyerson's catch also landed him the new IGFA men’s 37-kg (80-lb) line class record for striped bass, which previously stood at 70 lb. The previous all-tackle world record fish was a 78.5-lb (35.6-kg) specimen taken in Atlantic City, New Jersey on September 21, 1982 by Albert McReynolds, who fought the fish from the beach for 1:20 after it took his Rebel artificial lure.[23] Recreational bag limits vary by state and province.

Landlocked striped bass

Striped bass are an anadromous fish, so their upriver spawning migrations led some individuals to become "landlocked" during lake dam constructions. The first area where this was documented was at the Santee-Cooper River during the construction of the two dams that impounded Lakes Moultrie and Marion, and because of this, the state game fish of South Carolina is the striped bass.[24]

Recently, biologists came to believe that striped bass stayed in rivers for long periods of time, with some not returning to sea unless temperature changes forced migration. Once fishermen and biologists caught on to rising striped bass populations, many state natural resources departments started stocking striped bass in local lakes. Striped bass still continue to exhibit upstream migrations from freshwater lakes during the spawning period. Landlocked stripers have a hard time reproducing naturally, and one of the few and most successful rivers they have been documented reproducing successfully is the Coosa River in Alabama and Georgia.[25]

A 70.6-lb (32.0-kg) landlocked bass was caught in February 2013 by James Bramlett on the Warrior River in Alabama, a current world record.[26] This fish had a length of 44 inches (110 cm) and a girth of 37.75 inches (95.9 cm).

In Canada there are no landlocked Striped Bass, but a large number of bass overwinter in Grand Lake, Nova Scotia. They migrate out in early April into the Shubenacadie River to spawn. These bass also spawn in the Stewiacke River (a tributary of the Shubenacadie). The Shubenacadie River system is one of five known spawning areas in Canada for striped bass, with the others being the St. Lawerence River, Miramichi River, Saint John River, Annapolis River and Shubenacadie/Stewiacke Rivers.[27]


The striped bass population declined to less than 5 million by 1982, but efforts by fishermen with throw back lengths for smaller striped bass and management programs to rebuild the stock proved successful, and in 2007, there were nearly 56 million fish, including all ages. Recreational anglers and commercial fisherman caught an unprecedented 3.8 million fish in 2006. The management of the species includes size limits, commercial quotas, and biological reference points for the health of the species. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission states that striped bass are "not overfished and overfishing is not occurring."[28] Another way to replenish and help repopulate the striped bass population is to reintroduce the species back to original spawning grounds in coastal rivers and estuaries in the Northeast.[3]

As food

Striped bass (3 oz, baked)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 461 kJ (110 kcal)
0 g
3 g
Saturated 1 g
0.8 g
19 g
75 mg

Source: Seafood Nutrition Chart, New York Sea Grant and the New York Seafood Council, 1996.[29]
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Striped bass brisket with a lima-fava bean puree

Striped bass has white meat with a mild flavor and a medium texture. It is extremely versatile in that it can be pan-seared, grilled, steamed, poached, roasted, broiled, sautéed, and deep fried (including batter-frying).[30] The flesh can also be eaten raw or pickled.[31][32]

The primary market forms for fresh bass include headed and gutted (with the head and organs removed) and filets; the primary market forms for frozen bass include headed and gutted and loins. It can also be found in steaks, chunks, or whole.[29] Fresh striped bass is available year-round,[30] and is typically sold in sizes from two to fifteen pounds, and can be sold up to fifty pounds.[32]

Striped bass has firm and flavorful flesh with a large flake.[32] The hybrid striped bass yields more meat, has a more fragile texture, and a blander flavor than wild striped bass.[33] The fish has a mild and distinctive flavor. In recipes, it can be substituted for milder fish like cod, as well as for stronger fish like bluefish. Other fish can substitute it, including weakfish, tilefish, blackfish, small bluefish, catfish, salmon, swordfish, and shark. Striped bass is easily grilled in fillets, and is therefore popular in beach communities.[29]


  1. ^ NatureServe (2015). "Morone saxatilis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 4.1 (4.1). International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  2. ^ Gulf Coast Striped Bass. Welaka National Fish Hatchery. (September 16, 2009). Retrieved on 2016-11-15.
  3. ^ a b c Little, Michael J. (1995). "A Report on the Historic Spawning Grounds of the Striped Bass, "Morone Saxatilis"". Maine Naturalist. 3 (2): 107–113. JSTOR 3858211. 
  4. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2007). "Morone saxatilis" in FishBase. March 2007 version.
  5. ^ National Audubon Society (May 2001). National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Fishes. Knopf, Rev Sub edition (May 21, 2002). ISBN 0375412247. 
  6. ^ Striped Bass Management Plan retrieved on June 10, 2007.
  7. ^ Pennsylvania State Fish & Boat Commission, Gallery of Pennsylvania Fishes, Chapter 21. Retrieved June 10, 2007.
  8. ^ Indiana Fish and Wildlife, Evaluation of Striped Bass Stockings at Harden Reservoir. Retrieved June 10, 2007.
  9. ^ East Fork Lake Fishing Map. ODNR Division of Wildlife.
  10. ^ Lakes | VDGIF. Retrieved on November 15, 2016.
  11. ^ Lakes | VDGIF. Retrieved on November 15, 2016.
  12. ^ Kaiser Engineers, California (1969). Final Report to the State of California, San Francisco Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Program, State of California, Sacramento, CA
  13. ^ Hartman, K. J. (2003). "Population-level consumption by Atlantic coastal striped bass and the influence of population recovery upon prey communities". Fisheries Management and Ecology. 10 (5): 281. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2400.2003.00365.x. 
  14. ^ "Executive Order 13449: Protection of Striped Bass and Red Drum Fish Populations". Office of the Federal Register. October 20, 2007. Retrieved October 24, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Reintroduction of the striped bass into the St. Lawrence" (PDF) (2nd ed.). Minister of the Environment. 2008. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Reproduction of striped bass - A historical first: spawning ground identified in Montmagny". Gouvernement du Québec, 2003-2012. September 1, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  17. ^ Striped Bass Morone saxatilis. Chesapeake Bay Program
  18. ^ Wilde, G. R. and L.J. Paulson (1989). "Food habits of subadult striped bass in Lake Mead Arizona-Nevada". The Southwestern Naturalist. 34 (1): 118–123. JSTOR 3671816. 
  19. ^ Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Status of the Striped Bass/Hybrid Bass Bass Fishery March 2006 retrieved June 10, 2007.
  20. ^ Pennsylvania State Fish & Boat Commission, Gallery of Pennsylvania Fishes, Chapter 21. Retrieved June 10, 2007.
  21. ^ Greg Myerson's World Record Striper Official Website. Retrieved on November 15, 2016.
  22. ^ IGFA all-tackle world record striped bass. Retrieved on November 15, 2016.
  23. ^ DiBenedetto, David (October 13, 2009). On the Run: An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast. HarperCollins. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-06-187735-3. 
  24. ^ "History of Freshwater Striped Bass". Retrieved March 1, 2010. 
  25. ^ "Striped Bass in River Systems". Retrieved March 1, 2010. 
  26. ^ "Word Record Landlocked Bass". May 2013. 
  27. ^ Aquatic Species at Risk - Striped Bass (Bay of Fundy Population). Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  28. ^ "Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission: Striped Bass" (PDF). Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  29. ^ a b c "Striped Bass". New York Seafood Council. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  30. ^ a b "East Coast Striped Bass: Prep & Nutrition". Seattle Fish Company. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  31. ^ Ainsworth, Mark (2009). Fish and Seafood: Identification, Fabrication, Utilization. Clifton Park, New York: Delmar, Cengage Learning. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-4354-0036-8. 
  32. ^ a b c The Culinary Institute of America (2011). The Professional Chef (9th ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-470-42135-2. OCLC 707248142. 
  33. ^ McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of he Kitchen. New York, New York: Scribner. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-684-80001-1. LCCN 2004058999. 

External links



Florida pompano


Florida pompano | Trachinotus carolinus

Florida pompano info via Wikipedia:

Florida pompano
Pompano common.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Carangidae
Genus: Trachinotus
Species: T. carolinus
Binomial name
Trachinotus carolinus
(Linnaeus, 1766)

The Florida pompano (Trachinotus carolinus[2]) is a species of marine fish in the Trachinotus (pompano) genus of the family Carangidae. It has a compressed body and short snout; coloration varies from blue-greenish silver on the dorsal areas and silver to yellow on the body and fins. It can be found along the western coast of the Atlantic Ocean, depending on the season, and is popular for both sport and commercial fishing. Most Florida pompano caught weigh less than 3 lb (1.4 kg) and are less than 17 in (43 cm) long, though the largest individuals weigh 8–9 lb (3.6–4.1 kg) and reach lengths up to 26 in (66 cm).

Because it is fast-growing and desirable for food, the pompano is one of the many fish that is currently being farmed through aquaculture.

The Florida city of Pompano Beach is named after the Florida pompano.


The different kinds of pompano include African, Cayenne, and Florida. The Florida pompano (T. carolinus) is part of the jack family. It is very similar to the permit (Trachinotus falcatus). It has a deeply forked tail and is blue-greenish silver with yellow on the throat, belly, and pelvic and anal fins. The first dorsal fins are low, with about six separate spines. The first spine may be reabsorbed in a larger fish. The second lobes on the dorsal and anal fins have a lower anterior.[3] There are 20-24 anal fin rays. It is a compressed fish with a deep body and a blunt snout.

Trachinotus carolinus, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil


Pompano WL.png

Juvenile pompano grow between 0.8 and 1.9 in (20 and 48 mm) per month, depending on the population. Pompano grow quickly and attain a length of about 12 in (30 cm) and a weight of about 1 lb (0.45 kg) after the first year. The relationship between total length (L, in inches) and total weight (W, in pounds) for nearly all fish can be expressed by an equation of the form: W = c L b {\displaystyle W=cL^{b}\!\,} W=cL^{b}\!\,

Invariably, b is close to 3.0 for all species, and c is a constant that varies among species.[4] A weight-length relationship was determined for a sample of 1,984 Florida pompano collected along the Gulf Coast of Florida between 2000 and 2002.[5] The fish sampled ranged in length from 79–481 mm (3.16-19.24 in). For this sample of Florida pompano, b = 2.9342 and c = 0.00076.

This relationship predicts that a 12-inch (300 mm) pompano will weigh about a pound. Most are less than three pounds when caught, though the largest pompano recorded have weighed 8-9 lb and were 23-25 in long.


The Florida pompano usually survives for only about three to four years,[6] although individuals as old as 6-7 yr have been caught.[5]

Range and habitat

The adult Florida pompano is typically found in more saline areas and relatively warm waters (70-89 °F), so it migrates northward in the summer, and toward the south in the fall.[6] Despite its name, the range of the Florida pompano extends from Massachusetts to Brazil, but it is more common in areas near Florida. During the summer, it can be found near Sebastian, Cape Hatteras, and the Gulf of Mexico. It is more common near oil rigs, Palm Beach, and Hobe Sound during the winter. It can also be found near the Virgin Islands year round.

Its habitat is surf flats, and it tends to stay away from clear water regions, such as the Bahamas.[7] Pompanos are very fast swimmers and live in schools. They are bottom feeders. They have very short teeth and feed on zoobenthos and small clams.



The pompano is a popular food fish. Chefs like it because the fillets are of even thickness, which aids in cooking. A popular dish created in New Orleans, called “pompano en papillote,” is wrapped in parchment paper with a white sauce of wine, shrimp, and crabmeat, and then steamed.[8]

The pompano’s flesh is oily and looks white and opaque. Its diet yields a rich but mild flavor. Fresh fillets can cost $17 or more.[9] Demand has encouraged the use of aquaculture to increase supply.


The Florida pompano is a popular choice for aquaculture because it is such a popular food and sport fish and is in high demand, and at the same time it has a fast growth rate, high dockside prices,[10] and a tolerance for low-salinity waters.[10] The typical market size of farm-raised pompano is 1 to 1.5 lb (0.45 to 0.68 kg).[11]


The pompano supports an important commercial and recreational fishery. Florida pompano are commercially fished in all states on the East Coast from Virginia to Texas, with Florida producing over 90% of the annual harvest. Harvesting occurs mostly along Florida's western coast, with some harvesting on the eastern coast and in the Banana and Indian Rivers. Between 1994 and 2006, it commanded dockside prices of more than $3 per pound of whole fish weight.[11]

Individually, Florida pompano are caught on light jigs and popping corks. They are very active on the line, testing light tackle beyond what their weight would suggest.[8] They bite near oil rigs in the winter.

From 1997-2000, the fishing mortality rates increased sharply. However, an extensive study by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission concluded, as of 2005, the population of Florida pompano was healthy and the fishery was sustainable with current practices.[5][8]


  1. ^ Smith-Vaniz, W.F.; Williams, J.T.; Pina Amargos, F.; Curtis, M.; Brown, J. (2015). "Trachinotus carolinus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2015: e.T16507646A16510412. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T16507646A16510412.en. Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Trachinotus carolinus" in FishBase. April 2006 version.
  3. ^ Smith, C. Lavett, National Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine Fishes of the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. Chanticleer Press, 1997, ISBN 0-679-44601-X, color plate 268, p. 490
  4. ^ R. O. Anderson and R. M. Neumann, Length, Weight, and Associated Structural Indices, in Fisheries Techniques, second edition, B.E. Murphy and D.W. Willis, eds., American Fisheries Society, 1996.
  5. ^ a b c Murphy, M.D., Muller, R.G., Guindon, K. A stock assessment for pompano, Trachinotus carolinus, in Florida waters through 2005. Report to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Marine Fisheries Management. In-house report 2008-004, 2008.
  6. ^ a b ESPN page on Florida pompano Archived 2006-05-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Smithsonian Marine Station page on Florida pompano
  8. ^ a b c Ristori, Al. The Saltwater Fish Identifier. New York: Mallard Press, 1992, ISBN 0-7924-5575-4, pp. 44
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2010-06-12. 
  10. ^ a b rch%20and%20Development MOTE Marine Laboratory aquaculture of Florida pompano
  11. ^ a b Southern Regional Aquacultural Center (Texas A&M) Species Profile on Florida pompano 2007[permanent dead link]

Bull Shark Skull



Bull Shark | Carcharhinus leucas

Bull Shark info via Wikipedia:

Bull shark
Bullshark Beqa Fiji 2007.jpg
Carcharhinus leucas TPWD.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Order: Carcharhiniformes
Family: Carcharhinidae
Genus: Carcharhinus
Species: C. leucas
Binomial name
Carcharhinus leucas
(J. P. Müller and Henle, 1839)
Cypron-Range Carcharhinus leucas.svg
Range of bull shark

The bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), also known as the Zambezi shark (informally "zambi") in Africa, and Lake Nicaragua shark in Nicaragua, is a requiem shark commonly found worldwide in warm, shallow waters along coasts and in rivers. The bull shark is known for its aggressive nature, predilection for warm shallow water, and presence in brackish and freshwater systems including estuaries and rivers.

Bull sharks can thrive in both salt and fresh water and can travel far up rivers. They have been known to travel up the Mississippi River as far as Alton, Illinois,[2] about 700 miles (1100 km) from the ocean. However, few freshwater human-shark interactions have been recorded. Larger-sized bull sharks are probably responsible for the majority of near-shore shark attacks, including many bites attributed to other species.[3]

Unlike the river sharks of the genus Glyphis, bull sharks are not true freshwater sharks despite their ability to survive in freshwater habitats.


The name "bull shark" comes from the shark's stocky shape, broad, flat snout, and aggressive, unpredictable behavior.[4] In India, the bull shark may be confused with the Sundarbans or Ganges shark. In Africa, it is also commonly called the Zambezi River shark, or just "zambi".

Its wide range and diverse habitats result in many other local names, including Ganges River shark, Fitzroy Creek whaler, van Rooyen's shark, Lake Nicaragua shark,[5] river shark, freshwater whaler, estuary whaler, Swan River whaler,[6] cub shark, and shovelnose shark.[7]


Some of the bull shark's closest living relatives do not have the capabilities of osmoregulation. Its genus, Carcharhinus, also includes the sandbar shark, which is not capable of osmoregulation.[8]

The bull shark shares numerous similarities with river sharks of the genus Glyphis, and other species in the genus Carcharhinus, but its phylogeny has not been cleared yet.[9]

Anatomy and appearance

Bull sharks are large and stout, with females being larger than males. The bull shark can be up to 81 cm (2.66 ft) in length at birth.[10] Adult female bull sharks average 2.4 m (7.9 ft) long and typically weigh 130 kg (290 lb), whereas the slightly smaller adult male averages 2.25 m (7.4 ft) and 95 kg (209 lb). While a maximum size of 3.5 m (11 ft) is commonly reported, a single record exists of a female specimen of exactly 4.0 m (13.1 ft). The maximum recorded weight of a bull shark was 315 kg (694 lb), but may be larger.[3][11][12] Bull sharks are wider and heavier than other requiem sharks of comparable length, and are grey on top and white below. The second dorsal fin is smaller than the first. The bull shark's caudal fin is longer and lower than that of the larger sharks, and it has a small snout, and lacks an interdorsal ridge.[10]

Bull sharks have a bite force up to 5,914 newtons (1,330 lbf), weight for weight the highest among all investigated cartilaginous fishes.[13]

Distribution and habitat

The bull shark is commonly found worldwide in coastal areas of warm oceans, in rivers and lakes, and occasionally salt and freshwater streams if they are deep enough. It is found to a depth of 150 m (490 ft), but does not usually swim deeper than 30 m (98 ft).[14] In the Atlantic, it is found from Massachusetts to southern Brazil, and from Morocco to Angola. In the Indian Ocean, it is found from South Africa to Kenya, India, Vietnam, Philippines to Australia.[citation needed]

Populations of bull sharks are also found in several major rivers, with more than 500 bull sharks thought to be living in the Brisbane River. One was reportedly seen swimming the flooded streets of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, during the 2010-11 Queensland floods.[15] Several were sighted in one of the main streets of Goodna, Queensland, shortly after the peak of the January 2011, floods.[16] A large bull shark was caught in the canals of Scarborough, just north of Brisbane within Moreton Bay. Still greater numbers are in the canals of the Gold Coast, Queensland.[17] In the Pacific Ocean, it can be found from Baja California to Ecuador. The bull shark has traveled 4,000 km (2,500 mi) up the Amazon River to Iquitos in Peru[18] and north Bolivia.[1] It also lives in freshwater Lake Nicaragua, in the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers of West Bengal, and Assam in Eastern India and adjoining Bangladesh.[citation needed] It can live in water with a high salt content as in St. Lucia Estuary in South Africa. Bull sharks have been recorded in the Tigris River since at least 1924 as far upriver as Baghdad.[19] The bull shark is generally prolific in the warm, coastal waters and estuarine systems of the Mozambique Channel and southward, including Kwa-Zulu Natal and Mozambique.[citation needed] The species has a distinct preference for warm currents.[citation needed]

After Hurricane Katrina, many bull sharks were sighted in Lake Pontchartrain.[20] Bull sharks have occasionally gone up the Mississippi River as far upstream as Alton, Illinois,[21] and up the Ohio River as far as Manchester, Ohio.[22] They have also been found in the Potomac River in Maryland.[23][24] A golf course lake at Carbook, Logan City, Queensland, Australia is the home to several bull sharks. They were trapped following a flood of the Logan and Albert Rivers in 1996.[25] The golf course has capitalized on the novelty and now hosts a monthly tournament called the "Shark Lake Challenge".[26]


Freshwater tolerance

The bull shark is the best known of 43 species of elasmobranch in 10 genera and four families to have been reported in fresh water.[27] Other species that enter rivers include the stingrays (Dasyatidae, Potamotrygonidae and others) and sawfish (Pristidae). Some skates (Rajidae), smooth dogfishes (Triakidae), and sandbar sharks (Carcharhinus plumbeus) regularly enter estuaries.[citation needed]

The bull shark is diadromous, meaning they can swim between salt and fresh water with ease.[28] These fish also are euryhaline fish, able to adapt to a wide range of salinities. The bull shark is one of the few cartilaginous fishes that have been reported in freshwater systems. Many of the euryhaline fish are bony fish such as salmon and tilapia and are not closely related to bull sharks. Evolutionary assumptions can be made to help explain this sort of evolutionary disconnect, one being that the bull shark encountered a population bottleneck that occurred during the last ice age.[29] This bottleneck may have separated the bull shark from the rest of the Elasmobranchii subclass and favored the genes for an osmoregulatory system.

Elasmobranchs' ability to enter fresh water is limited because their blood is normally at least as salty (in terms of osmotic strength) as seawater through the accumulation of urea and trimethylamine oxide, but bull sharks living in fresh water show a significantly reduced concentration of urea within their blood.[30] Despite this, the solute composition (i.e. osmolarity) of a bull shark in fresh water is still much higher than that of the external environment. This results in a large influx of water across the gills due to osmosis and loss of sodium and chloride from the shark's body. However, bull sharks in fresh water possess several organs with which to maintain appropriate salt and water balance; these are the rectal gland, kidneys, liver, and gills. All elasmobranchs have a rectal gland which functions in the excretion of excess salts accumulated as a consequence of living in seawater. Bull sharks in freshwater environments decrease the salt-excretory activity of the rectal gland, thereby conserving sodium and chloride.[31] The kidneys produce large amounts of dilute urine, but also play an important role in the active reabsorption of solutes into the blood.[31] The gills of bull sharks are likely to be involved in the uptake of sodium and chloride from the surrounding fresh water,[32] whereas urea is produced in the liver as required with changes in environmental salinity.[33] Recent work also shows that the differences in density of fresh water to that of marine waters result in significantly greater negative buoyancies in sharks occupying fresh water, resulting in increasing costs of living in fresh water. Bull sharks caught in freshwater have subsequently been shown to have lower liver densities than sharks living in marine waters. This may reduce the added cost of greater negative buoyancy.[34]

Bull sharks are able to regulate themselves to live in either fresh or salt water. It can live in fresh water for its entire life, but this does not happen, mostly due to reproduction. Young bull sharks leave the brackish water in which they are born and move out into the sea to breed. While theoretically, bull sharks to live in purely fresh water may be possible, the bull sharks that were being experimented on had died within four years. The stomach was opened and all that was found were two small, unidentifiable fishes. The cause of death could have been starvation since the primary food source for bull sharks resides in salt water.[35]

In a research experiment, the bull sharks were found to be at the mouth of an estuary for the majority of the time.[28] They stayed at the mouth of the river independent of the salinity of the water. The driving factor for a bull shark to be in fresh or salt water, however, is its age; as the bull shark ages, its tolerance for very low or high salinity increases.[28] The majority of the newborn or very young bull sharks were found in the freshwater area, whereas the much older bull sharks were found to be in the saltwater areas, as they had developed a much better tolerance for the salinity.[28] Reproduction is one of the reasons why adult bull sharks travel into the river—it is thought to be a physiological strategy to improve juvenile survival and a way to increase overall fitness of bull sharks.[28] The young are not born with a high tolerance for high salinity, so they are born in fresh water and stay there until they are able to travel out.

Initially, scientists thought the sharks in Lake Nicaragua belonged to an endemic species, the Lake Nicaragua shark (Carcharhinus nicaraguensis). In 1961, following specimen comparisons, taxonomists synonymized them.[36] They can jump along the rapids of the San Juan River (which connects Lake Nicaragua and the Caribbean Sea), almost like salmon.[14] Bull sharks tagged inside the lake have later been caught in the open ocean (and vice versa), with some taking as few as seven to 11 days to complete the journey.[36]


The bull shark's diet consists mainly of bony fish and small sharks, including other bull sharks,[3] but can also include turtles, birds, dolphins, terrestrial mammals, crustaceans, echinoderms, and stingrays. They hunt in murky waters where it is harder for the prey to see the shark coming.[1][37][38] Bull sharks have been known to use the bump-and-bite technique to attack their prey. After the first initial contact, they continue to bite and tackle prey until they are unable to flee.[39]

The bull shark is known to be a solitary hunter, although brief moments exist in which the bull shark teams up with another bull shark to make hunting and to tricking prey easier.[40][41]

Sharks are known to be opportunistic feeders,[39] and the bull shark is no exception to this, as it is part of the Carcharhinus family of sharks. Normally, sharks eat in short bursts, and when food is scarce, sharks digest for a much longer period of time in order to avoid starvation.[39] As part of their survival mechanism, bull sharks will regurgitate the food in their stomachs in order to escape from a predator. This is a distraction tactic; if the predator moves to eat the regurgitated food the bull shark can use the opportunity to escape.[42]


Bull sharks mate during late summer and early autumn,[8] often in freshwater[43] or in the brackish water of river mouths. After gestating for 12 months, a bull shark may give birth to 1 to 13 live young.[8][44]

They are viviparous, born live and free-swimming. The young are about 70 cm (27.6 in) at birth. The bull shark does not rear its young; the young bull sharks are born into flat, protected areas.[44] Coastal lagoons, river mouths, and other low-salinity estuaries are common nursery habitats.[3]

The male bull shark is able to begin reproducing around the age of 15 years while the female cannot begin reproducing until the age of 18 years.[44] The size of a fully matured female bull shark to produce viable eggs for fertilization seems to be 175 cm to 235 cm. The courting routine between bull sharks has not been observed in detail as of yet. The male likely bites the female on the tail until she can turn upside down and the male can copulate at that point. At some points, the harassment of the male can become violent. Seeing scratches and other marks on a mature female which may be from the mating ritual is not uncommon.[45]

Bull sharks have an unusual migratory pattern in comparison to other sharks. They are found in rivers all over the world. They give birth in the fresh water of rivers. The young bull sharks are free from predators while they grow up in the river before they go out to the sea to find mates.[46]

The ability to be able to survive in both fresh and salt water also gives another benefit that has been driven by evolution. Because the majority of sharks are only able to survive in salt water, the bull shark has evolved to have their offspring in the fresh water where other sharks cannot enter.[47] The freshwater acts as a protective area where the young are able to grow and mature without the threat of larger sharks preying on the younger bull sharks.[47] This is an explanation for the behavior that is observed from the Bull sharks as to why there would be any reason for the adult bull shark to ever travel into a freshwater area despite being able to tolerate the high salinity of marine water.

Interactions with humans

Photo of bull shark in shallow water
Bull shark (Bahamas)

Since bull sharks often dwell in very shallow waters, are found in many types of habitats, are territorial by nature and have virtually no tolerance for provocation, they may be more dangerous to humans than any other species of shark,[14] and along with the tiger shark and great white shark, are among the three shark species most likely to bite humans.[4]

One or several bull sharks may have been responsible for the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916, which were the inspiration for Peter Benchley's novel Jaws.[48] The speculation of bull sharks possibly being responsible is based on two fatal bites occurring in brackish and fresh water.

The bull shark is responsible for biting swimmers around the Sydney Harbour inlets.[49] Most of these bites were previously attributed to Great White sharks. In India, bull sharks swim up the Ganges River and have bitten bathers. Many of these bite incidents were attributed to the Ganges shark, Glyphis gangeticus, a critically endangered river shark species, although the sand tiger shark was also blamed during the 1960s and 1970s.

The bull shark prefers coastal water which is less than 100 feet in depth. This is mostly due to their feeding patterns, since they prefer murky waters. This is also a problem since this gives the most interaction with humans. It is known that bull sharks inhabit areas off the coast of Florida, and there have been reports of bull sharks getting close enough to the coast to bite humans since the bull shark is a territorial animal, which encourages aggressive behavior.[50]

Visual cues

Behavioral studies have confirmed that sharks can take visual cues in order to discriminate between different objects.[46] The bull shark is able to discriminate between colors of mesh netting that is present underwater.[46] It was found that bull sharks tended to avoid mesh netting of bright colors rather than colors that blended in with the water. Bright yellow mesh netting was found to be easily avoided when it was placed in the path of the bull shark. This was found to be the reason that sharks are attracted to bright yellow survival gear rather than ones that were painted black.[46] This is very important because it gives an insight into how bull sharks are able to pick up certain visual keys underwater that might give them an advantage when seeking out certain prey.

Energy conservation

In 2008, researchers tagged and recorded the movements of young bull sharks in the Caloosahatchee River estuary. Specifically, they were testing to find out what determined the movement of the young bull sharks.[51] It was found that the young bull sharks synchronously moved downriver when the environmental conditions changed.[51] This large movement of young bull sharks were found to be moving as a response rather than other external factors such as predators. An interesting find was that the movement was directly related to the bull shark conserving energy for itself. One way the bull shark is able to conserve energy is that when the tidal flow changes, the bull shark uses the tidal flow in order to conserve energy as it moves downriver.[51] Another way for the bull shark to conserve energy is to decrease the amount of energy needed to osmoregulate the surrounding environment.[51]


Bull sharks are apex predators and seldom have to fear being attacked by other animals. Humans are their biggest threat. Larger sharks, such as the tiger shark and great white shark, may attack them.[3] Crocodiles may be a threat to bull sharks in rivers. Saltwater crocodiles have been observed preying on bull sharks in the rivers and estuaries of Northern Australia,[52] and a Nile crocodile was reported as consuming a bull shark in South Africa.[53]


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  9. ^ Fowler, S.; Reed, T.; Dipper, F. (1997). Elasmobranch biodiversity, conservation, and management: Proceedings of the international seminar and workshop. Gland Switzerland: IUCN. 
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  22. ^ "Bull Shark found in Ohio River". 12 September 2014. Retrieved 21 April 2017. 
  23. ^ 8-Foot Shark Caught In Potomac River. Retrieved on 4 May 2012.
  24. ^ Zauzmer, Julie (22 August 2013). "Man catches 2 Bull sharks in Potomac". Washington Post. 
  25. ^ Boswell, Thomas (1 May 2013). "Sharks at Carbrook Golf Club caught on film, confirming they survived Brisbane floods". Albert & Logan News. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  26. ^ "Shark-Infested Australian Golf Course Believed to Be World's First". Fox News. 11 October 2011. 
  27. ^ Compagno, Leonard I.V. & Cook, Sid F. (March 1995). "Freshwater elasmobranchs; a questionable future". Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  28. ^ a b c d e Heupel, Michelle R.; Colin A. Simpfendorfer (2008). "Movement and distribution of young bull sharks Carcharhinus leucas in a variable estuarine environment" (PDF). Aquatic Biology. 1: 277–289. doi:10.3354/ab00030. 
  29. ^ Tillett B., Meekan; M., Field; I., Thornburn; D., Ovenden, J. (2012). "Evidence for reproductive philopatry in the bull shark Carcharhinus leucas". Journal of Fish Biology. 80 (6): 2140–2158. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2012.03228.x. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  30. ^ Pillans, R.D.; Franklin, C.E. (2004). "Plasma osmolyte concentrations and rectal gland mass of bull sharks Carcharhinus leucas, captured along a salinity gradient". Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A. 138 (3): 363–371. doi:10.1016/j.cbpb.2004.05.006. PMID 15313492. 
  31. ^ a b Pillans, R.D.; Good, J.P.; Anderson, W.G.; Hazon, N & Franklin, C.E. (2005). "Freshwater to seawater acclimation of juvenile bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas): plasma osmolytes and Na+/K+-ATPase activity in gill, rectal gland, kidney and intestine" (PDF). Journal of Comparative Physiology B. 175 (1): 37–44. doi:10.1007/s00360-004-0460-2. PMID 15565307. 
  32. ^ Reilly, B.D.; Cramp, R.L.; Wilson, J.M.; Campbell, H.A & Franklin, C.E. (2011). "Branchial osmoregulation in the euryhaline bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas: a molecular analysis of ion transporters". Journal of Experimental Biology. 214 (17): 2883–2895. doi:10.1242/jeb.058156. PMID 21832131. 
  33. ^ Anderson, W.G.; Good, J.P.; Pillans, R.D.; Hazon, N & Franklin, C.E. (2005). "Hepatic urea biosynthesis in the euryhaline elasmobranch Carcharhinus leucas". Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Comparative Experimental Biology. 303A (10): 917–921. doi:10.1002/jez.a.199. PMID 16161010. 
  34. ^ Gleiss, A. C.; Potvin, J.; Keleher, J. J.; Whitty, J. M.; Morgan, D. L.; Goldbogen, J. A. (2015). "Mechanical challenges to freshwater residency in sharks and rays". Journal of Experimental Biology. 218 (7): 1099–1110. doi:10.1242/jeb.114868. PMID 25573824. 
  35. ^ Montoya, Rafael Vasquez; Thorson, Thomas B. (1982). "The bull shark and largetooth sawfish in Lake Bayano, a tropical man-made impoundment in Panama". Environmental Biology of Fishes. 7 (4): 341–347. doi:10.1007/BF00005568. 
  36. ^ a b Fresh Waters: Unexpected Haunts. Accessed 6 April 2008.
  37. ^ Kindersley, Dorling (2001) in Animal, David Burnie and Don E. Wilson (eds.) London & New York: Smithsonian Institution, ISBN 0789477645.
  38. ^ Snelson, Franklin F; Mulligan, Timothy J; Williams, Sherry E (1 January 1984). "Food Habits, Occurrence, and Population Structure of the Bull Shark, Carcharhinus leucas, in Florida Coastal Lagoons". Bulletin of Marine Science. 1: 71–80. 
  39. ^ a b c Motta, Philip J; Wilga, Cheryl D. (2001). "Advances in the study of feeding behaviors, mechanisms, and mechanics or sharks". Environmental Biology of Fishes. 60 (1): 131–156. doi:10.1023/A:1007649900712. 
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  41. ^ Life of Bull Shark | Life of Sea. (15 November 2011).
  42. ^ Tuma, Robert E. (1976). "Reproduction of the Bull Shark, Carcharhinus leucas, in the Lake Nicaragua-Rio San Juan System". In Thorson, Thomas B. Investigation of the Icthyofauna of Nicaraguan Lakes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. 
  43. ^ Pacific Shark Research Center » Featured Elasmobranch – Bull Shark. (16 February 2009). Retrieved on 30 November 2013.
  44. ^ a b c Fact Sheet: Bull Sharks. (15 October 1999). Retrieved on 30 November 2013.
  45. ^ Jenson, Norman H. (1976). "Reproduction of the Bull Shark, Carcharhinus leucas, in the Lake Nicaragua-Rio San Juan System". In Thorson, Thomas B. Investigation of the Icthyofauna of Nicaraguan Lakes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. 
  46. ^ a b c d Bres, M (1993). "The behaviour of sharks" (PDF). Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. 3 (2): 133–159. doi:10.1007/BF00045229. 
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  50. ^ Frantz, Vickie (18 July 2011). "Bull Sharks Attacks Comonly in Warm, Shallow Waters". accuweather. 
  51. ^ a b c d Ortega, Lori A.; Heupel, Michelle R.; van Beynen, Philip & Motta, Philip J. (2009). "Movement patterns and water quality preferences of juvenile bull sharks (Carcharhinus lecuas) in a Florida estuary". Environmental Biology of Fishes. 84 (4): 361–373. doi:10.1007/s10641-009-9442-2. 
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External links


Longnose Gar


Longnose Gar | Lepisosteus osseus

Longnose Gar info on Wikipedia:

Longnose gar
Longnose gar, Boston Aquarium.JPG
At the New England Aquarium
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Lepisosteiformes
Family: Lepisosteidae
Genus: Lepisosteus
Species: L. osseus
Binomial name
Lepisosteus osseus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) is a primitive ray-finned fish of the gar family. It is also known as the needlenose gar. L. osseus is found along the east coast of North and Central America in freshwater lakes and as far west as Kansas and Texas and southern New Mexico. The gar have been present in North America for about 100 million years.[4]


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.[5] Longnose gar are frequently found in fresh water in the eastern half of the United States, but some gar were found in salinities up to 31 ppt.[6] Their microhabitats consist of areas near downed trees, stone outcrops, and vegetation.[7] The decline of their population is mainly due to human manipulation of aquatic systems.


The most common prey of the longnose gar is small fish and occasionally insects and small crustaceans, and mostly feed at night.[8] Their main competitors are other gar of their own species, as well as other types of gar. Larger gar have been known to feed on smaller gar, as well.[9] 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.[10] Today, gar is more of sport fish, but their meat is surprisingly tasty. Predation is not a problem on adult longnose gar, but they are vulnerable to other gar predation when they are young, including adult longnose gar. L. osseus is carnivorous; for example, their diet consists of sunfish, catfish, and crayfish in their Texas range.[9] Sexual maturity for males is reached between three and four years of age, and females at six 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. Their eggs are very toxic to terrestrial vertebrates, but other piscivorous fish could tolerate the toxins.[11]

Life history

Longnose gar have an average lifespan of 15–20 years with a maximum reported age of 39. This long lifespan allows the female to sexually mature around six years old. Males mature sexually as soon as two years of age. Longnose gars are sexually dimorphic; 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 bear larger clutch sizes. They spawn in temperatures close to 20 °C in late April and early July.[11] Eggs have a toxic, adhesive coating to help them stick to substrates, and they are deposited onto stones in shallow water, rocky shelves, vegetation, or smallmouth bass nests.[12] Their hatch time is seven to 9 days; young gar stay in vegetation during the first summer of life.[8] Longnose gar reach an average length of 28-48 in (0.71-1.2 m) with a maximum length of about 6 ft (1.8 m) and 55 lb (25 kg) in weight.


Currently, no management of this species is being conducted, nor is it federally listed as endangered, although some states have reported it as threatened (South Dakota, Delaware, and Pennsylvania).[13] In the early 1900s, longnose gar were considered as destructive and worthless predators. 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 of anything that would fit in their mouths. Soon after this characterization, gar population reduction methods were established. Their declining populations are due to overfishing, 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 lifespans and older sexual maturity age, factors affecting their reproduction is an issue in preserving them.[14] Overfishing 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.[14][15]


  1. ^ NatureServe (2015). "Lepisosteus osseus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 4.1 (4.1). International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved April 7, 2016. 
  2. ^ Froese, R.; Pauly, D. (2017). "Lepisosteidae". FishBase version (02/2017). Retrieved 18 May 2017. 
  3. ^ "Lepisosteidae" (PDF). Deeplyfish- fishes of the world. Retrieved 18 May 2017. 
  4. ^ McGrath, P.E., E.J. Hilton (2011). Sexual dimorphism in longnose gar Lepisosteus osseus. Journal of Fish Biology 80(2)335-345.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Uhler, P.R. & O. Lugger. (1876). List of fishes of Maryland. Report of the Commissioners of Fisheries of Maryland, to the General Assembly
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b 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.
  9. ^ a b Bonham, Kelshaw. (1941). Food of gars in Texas. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 70(1):356-362.
  10. ^ Straube, B. and N. Luccketti. (1996). Jamestown rediscovery 1995 interim report. November 2006. The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, 55 p.
  11. ^ a b Netsh, Norval F., Arthur Witt Jr. (1962). Contributions to the Life History of the Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus) in Missouri. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 91(3):251-262.
  12. ^ Beard, J. (1889). On the early development of Lepidosteus osseus. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 46:108-118.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ a b Alfaro, Roberto Mendoza, et al. (2008). Gar biology and culture: status and prospects. Aquaculture Research 39:748-763
  15. ^ Spitzer, Mark (2010). Season of the Gar: Adventures in Pursuit of America's Most Misunderstood Fish. U. of Arkansas Press.

Smallmouth Buffalo

Smallmouth Buffalo

Smallmouth Buffalo| Ictiobus bubalus

Smallmouth Buffalo info on Wikipedia:

Smallmouth buffalo
Smallmouth buffalo.JPG
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Catostomidae
Genus: Ictiobus
Species: I. bubalus
Binomial name
Ictiobus bubalus
(Rafinesque, 1818)
Smallmouth Buffalo Distribution.png
The distribution of I. bubalus in the United States
  • Catostomus bubalus Rafinesque, 1818

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.

Physical characteristics

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.

Commercial uses

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.[citation needed]



  1. ^ NatureServe (2013). "Ictiobus bubalus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2013: e.T191239A18236812. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T191239A18236812.en. Retrieved 5 January 2018. 
  2. ^ "Ohio Boating Accident Data Archive". Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  3. ^ "Smallmouth Buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus)". Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  4. ^ "Smallmouth Buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus) - FactSheet". Retrieved 2017-02-26. 

External links


Blue Sucker

Blue Sucker | Cycleptus elongatus

Blue sucker
Blue Sucker.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Catostomidae
Genus: Cycleptus
Species: C. elongatus
Binomial name
Cycleptus elongatus
Lesueur, 1817
  • Catostomus elongatus Lesueur, 1817
  • Cycleptus nigrescens Rafinesque, 1819
  • Rhytidostomus elongatus (Lesueur, 1871

The blue sucker (Cycleptus elongatus) is a freshwater species of fish in the sucker family. The species has an average weight of 2-3 kilograms and an average length of 76 centimeters. The record length has been recorded at 102 centimeters.[2]


Color is variable, from light steel-gray to almost jet black in the spring. The fish is streamlined, with an inferior mouth and a small/slender head that tapers to a fleshy snout. The mouth location allows the fish to feed off the bottom of its habitat. The body of this fish is elongated and slightly compressed.[3] It has a long falcate dorsal fin which is elevated anterior with 24-35 rays. It has a long caudal peduncle and a forked caudal fin. The anal fin contains 7-8 rays on average. The scales are large and contain 55-58 along the lateral line.[4]

Inferiorly positioned sucker mouth

Range and distribution

The Blue Sucker is native to the United States and Mexico. In the U.S., it lives in the Mississippi River basin north to Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Blue Sucker also lives in the Missouri River drainage to North Dakota and South Dakota and Montana. This species can also be found in the Gulf drainage from the Sabine River to the Rio grande.[5]


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.


Blue suckers obtain their food off the bottom of rivers and other bodies of freshwater through a mouth in the inferior position. Some organisms that they eat are aquatic insect larvae, crustaceans, plant materials and algae.


The Blue Sucker has a spawning time from around March until June. This varies on the location of the fish and also the water temperature. Fifty-three degrees is the average water temperature in which males and females find their spawning area. This area is in fast moving water around two feet deep. Rocks in the area will also be larger than gravel, but they will be smaller than boulders. The peak water temperature is sixty-two degrees and the actual spawning time will usually last around two weeks. Male suckers will continue to come to the area until spawning is officially over. Females will go to the area, lay her eggs, and leave once she is finished and they have been fertilized.[6]


The Blue Sucker is sensitive to water pollution, and is only able to live in water that is well irrigated or pollution-less. This is why it is common to see them in rivers.[7] The species is listed as least concern.


The Blue Sucker also goes by the name blackhorse, the bluefish, the muskellunge, the razor back, the sockerel, the gourd seed sucker, the Missouri Sucker, the slenderhead sucker, and the sweet sucker.[8]


"Cycleptus" is a Greek word meaning circular or slender. "Elongatus" is a Latin word meaning elongated.[9]


  1. ^ NatureServe (2014). "Cycleptus elongatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 21 August 2017. 
  2. ^ "Blue Sucker". Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Eddy, Samuel; Surber, Thaddeus. Northern Fishes w=. Minneapolis, MN: The University of Minnesota Press. p. 108. 
  4. ^ Page, Lawrence M.; Burr, Brooks M. (2011). Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico (2nd ed.). New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. p. 304. 
  5. ^ "Cycleptus elongatus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm). Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "Species Profile: Blue Sucker, Cycleptus elongatus". Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "Blue Sucker". Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "Blue Sucker". Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Lyons, John. "Blue Sucker". Fishes of Wisconsin. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 

Atlantic Needlefish

Atlantic Needlefish Gyotaku by Inked Animal
Atlantic Needlefish | Strongylura marina

Atlantic Needlefish Gyotaku by Inked Animal


Info via Wikipedia:

Strongylura marina
Fish4485 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Beloniformes
Family: Belonidae
Genus: Strongylura
Species: S. marina
Binomial name
Strongylura marina
(Walbaum, 1792)

The Atlantic needlefish (Strongylura marina) is a common demersal needlefish species common in marinas and other areas with minimal currents. Its extremely long jaw and body set this fish apart from other predators. Atlantic needlefish are found from Maine to Brazil and have been known to venture into fresh water for short periods.

Geographic range

S. 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.[2][3] Atlantic needlefish are not restricted to ocean waters; they can be found in various estuaries and are capable of ascending well upstream into fresh water. S. marina is found in shallow waters throughout the Chesapeake Bay.[4] In Texas, S. marina is known to inhabit these 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 the mouth of Nueces River), and Nueces River.[5]S. marina has also been introduced and now inhabits parts of the Tennessee River drainage throughout Alabama and Tennessee.[6]


As juveniles, the diet of S. marina consists of 70% shrimp, mysids, and amphipods and 30% fish, while adults are exclusively piscivorous.[7]

The predators of S. marina include larger piscivorous fish such as the Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus).[8] Less common predators include the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and juvenile lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris).[9] Since they are surface swimmers, Atlantic needlefish 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 S. marina can tolerate is 36.9 ppt,[8] they are able to adapt to a wide range of salinities, regularly venturing into fresh water.[3]

Life history

Spawning typically occurs in late spring and summer. In Texas, near ripe females have been reported in February.[8] 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 hatched. Spawning activity occurs in shallow, inshore habitats with submerged algal masses.[2]

S. marina depends on submerged vegetation for breeding and shelter. In the Gulf of Mexico, the eggs of S. marina attach to sargassum seaweed.


S. marina is not currently considered to be a threatened species. It is not of high commercial importance, but a fishery exists for it and it is sometimes taken as bycatch. Sport fishermen take it by angling and seining, and then use it as bait.[1]


  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ a b Collette, B B. (1968). "Strongylura timucu (Wallbaum): A valid species of Western Atlantic needlefish". Copeia. 1968 (1): 189–192. doi:10.2307/1441578. JSTOR 1441578. 
  4. ^ Berry, F. H. & Rivas, L. R. (1962). "Data on six species of needlefishes (Belonidae) from the western Atlantic". Copeia. 1962: 152–160. doi:10.2307/1439490. JSTOR 1439490. 
  5. ^ 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. doi:10.1577/1548-8446(2000)025<0007:DDACSO>2.0.CO;2. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Boschung, H. T. (1992). "Catalogue of freshwater and marine fishes of Alabama". Alabama Museum of Natural History Bulletin. 14: 1–266. 
  7. ^ 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". Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 102: 511–540. doi:10.1577/1548-8659(1973)102<511:FHOJMF>2.0.CO;2. 
  8. ^ a b c 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.
  9. ^ 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. doi:10.2307/1374993. 

External links


Guadalupe Bass (Williamson County, TX)

Micropterus treculii, Guadalupe Bass

Guadalupe Bass | Micropterus treculii

collected March 2012, Brushy Creek, Williamson County, Texas, USA
printed March 2012
India ink on paper


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

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:

Alligator gar
Alligator Gar 10.JPG
Alligator gar in an aquarium
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Lepisosteiformes
Family: Lepisosteidae
Genus: Atractosteus
Species: A. spatula
Binomial name
Atractosteus spatula
(Lacépède, 1803)
Atractosteus spatula range.png

Alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) are ray-finned euryhaline fish related to bowfin in the infraclass Holostei (ho'-las-te-i). The fossil record traces their existence to the Early Cretaceous over a hundred million years ago. They are the largest species in the gar family, and among the largest freshwater fishes in North America. Gars are often referred to as "primitive fishes", or "living fossils" because they have retained some morphological characteristics of their earliest ancestors, such as a spiral valve intestine which is also common to the digestive system of sharks, and the ability to breathe both air and water. Their common name was derived from their resemblance to the American alligator, particularly their broad snout and long sharp teeth. Anecdotal evidence in several scientific reports suggest that an alligator gar can grow up to 10 ft (3.0 m) in length and weigh as much as 300 lb (140 kg); however in 2011 the largest alligator gar ever caught and officially recorded was 8 ft 5 14 in (2.572 m) long, weighed 327 lb (148 kg), and was 47 in (120 cm) around the girth.

The body of an alligator gar is torpedo shaped, usually brown or olive fading to a lighter gray or yellow ventral surface. Their scales are not like the scales of other fishes; rather, they are ganoid scales which are bone-like, diamond-shaped scales, often with serrated edges, and covered by an enamel-like substance. Ganoid scales are nearly impenetrable and are excellent protection against predation. Unlike other gar species, the upper jaw of an alligator gar has a dual row of large sharp teeth which are used to impale and hold prey. Alligator gar are stalking, ambush predators, primarily piscivores, but they will also ambush and eat water fowl and small mammals they find floating on the water's surface.

Populations of alligator gar have been extirpated from much of their historic range as a result of habitat destruction, indiscriminate culling, and unrestricted harvests. Populations are now located primarily in the southern portions of the United States extending into Mexico. They are considered euryhaline because they can adapt to varying salinities ranging from freshwater lakes and swamps to brackish marshes, estuaries, and bays along the Gulf of Mexico.

For nearly a half-century, alligator gar were considered "trash fish",[2] or a "nuisance species" detrimental to sport fisheries; therefore, were targeted for elimination by state and federal authorities in the United States. The 1980s brought a better understanding of the ecological balance necessary to sustain an ecosystem,[3] and eventually an awareness that alligator gar were no less important than any other living organism in the ecosystems they inhabit.[4] Over time, alligator gar were afforded some protection by state and federal resource agencies. They are also protected under the Lacey Act which makes it illegal to transport certain species of fish in interstate commerce when in violation of state law or regulation. Several state and federal resource agencies are monitoring populations in the wild, and have initiated outreach programs to educate the public. Alligator gar are being cultured in ponds, pools, raceways and tanks by federal hatcheries for mitigation stocking, by universities for research purposes, and in Mexico for consumption.[5]


Preserved display of an alligator gar head

Alligator gar are the largest species in the gar family, and among the largest freshwater fishes found in North America. Mature alligator gar commonly measure 6 ft (1.8 m) in length, and weigh over 100 lbs. (45 kg). However, anecdotal reports suggest they can grow up to 10 ft (3m) in length, and weigh as much as 350 lbs. (159 kg).[6] The largest alligator gar officially recorded was inadvertently caught in the net of fisherman Kenny Williams of Vicksburg, Mississippi while he was fishing the oxbow lakes of the Mississippi River on February 14, 2011. Williams was pulling up his net on Lake Chotard expecting to find buffalo fish, but instead discovered a large alligator gar tangled in his net. The gar was 8 ft 5 14 in (2.572 m) long, weighed 327 lb (148 kg), and its girth was 47 in (120 cm). According to wildlife officials, the fish was estimated to be somewhere between 50 and 70 years old; one report estimated the gar's age to be at least 95.[7] Williams donated it to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson where it will remain on display.[8][9]

Gill of a juvenile gar

All gars have torpedo-shaped bodies, but some distinguishing characteristics of adult alligator gar include their large size, heavy bodies, broad heads, short broad snouts, large sharp teeth and double row of teeth on their upper jaw. They are usually brown or olive fading to a lighter gray or yellow ventral surface. The dorsal and anal fins are positioned toward the back of their bodies, and their caudal fin is abbreviate-heterocercal, or non-symmetrical.[6]


Alligator gar have gills, but unlike other species of fish, with few exceptions, they also have a highly vascularized swim bladder lung that supplements gill respiration.[10] The bladder not only provides buoyancy but also enables them to breathe in air which is why they are able to inhabit bodies of water in which most other fishes would die of suffocation. The swim bladder is connected to their foregut by a small pneumatic duct which allows them to breathe or gulp air when they break the surface,[11] an action that is seen quite frequently on lakes in the southern United States during the hot summer months. The scales of alligator gar are not like the scales of other fishes which have flexible elasmoid scales; their bodies are protected by inflexible and articulated ganoid scales that are diamond-shaped, often with serrated edges, and composed of a tough inner layer of bone and hard outer layer of ganoin which is essentially homologous to tooth enamel, making them nearly impenetrable.[12][13][14]

Taxonomy and evolution

Lacépède first described the alligator gar in 1803. The original name was Lepisosteus spatula, but was later changed by E.O. Wiley in 1976 to Atractosteus spatula in order to recognize two distinct extant taxon of gars. Synonyms of Atractosteus spatula include Lesisosteus [sic] ferox (Rafinesque 1820), and Lepisosteus spatula (Lacepede 1803). Fossils from the order Lepisosteiformes have been collected in Europe from the Cretaceous to Oligocene periods, in Africa and India from the Cretaceous, and in North America from the Cretaceous to recent times. Lepisosteidae is the only extant family of gar which has seven species all located in North and Central America.[6] The fossil record traces the existence of alligator gar back to the Early Cretaceous over a hundred million years ago.[15][16] Despite being a highly evolved species, alligator gar are often referred to as "primitive fishes", or "living fossils"[17][18] because they have retained a few morphological characteristics of their earliest ancestors with seemingly little to no apparent changes, such as a spiral valve intestine which is also common to the digestive system of sharks, an abbreviate-heterocercal tail, and a swim bladder lung for breathing in both air and water.[6][19][20]

Feeding behavior

Alligator gar are stalking, ambush predators

Alligator gar are relatively passive, seemingly sluggish solitary fish, but voracious ambush predators. They are opportunistic night predators and are primarily piscivores, but they will also ambush and eat water fowl and small mammals that may be floating on the surface. Their method of ambush is to float a few feet below the surface, and wait for unsuspecting prey to swim within reach. They lunge forward, and with a sweeping motion grab their prey, impaling it on their double rows of sharp teeth.[19]

Diet studies have shown alligator gar to be opportunistic piscivores, and even scavengers depending on the availability of their preferred food source. They occasionally ingest sport fish, but the majority of stomach content studies suggest they feed predominately on forage fishes such as gizzard shad as well as invertebrates, and water fowl. Diet studies have also revealed fishing tackle and boat engine parts in their stomachs.[21][22]


As with most ancestral species, alligator gar are long living, and sexually late maturing. Most females do not reach sexual maturity until after their first decade of life while males reach sexual maturity in half that time. The conditions must be precise for a successful spawning to occur. Preparation for spawning begins in the spring with the extended photoperiod and rising water temperatures, but flooding is also necessary to trigger the event. When rivers rise and spread over the floodplain, they create oxbow lakes and sloughs, and inundate terrestrial vegetation which in turn provides protection and a nutrient rich habitat for larval fishes, and fry. Once the water temperature has reached 68 to 82 °F (20 to 28 °C), and all the other criteria are met, gars will move into the grassy, weed-laden shallows to spawn.[23][24]

Actual spawning occurs when a collection of males gather around gravid females, and begin writhing, twisting, bumping into and slithering over the tops of females, an activity which triggers the release of eggs. Males release clouds of milt to fertilize the eggs as they are released into the water column.[23] The sticky eggs then attach to submerged vegetation, and development begins. It takes only a few days for the eggs to hatch into larval fish, and another ten days or so for the larval fish to detach from the vegetation and start moving about as young fry.[24] Egg production is variable, and believed to be dependent on the size of the female. A common formula used for predicting the volume of eggs a female can produce is 4.1 eggs/gram of body weight which gives an average of about 150,000 eggs per spawn. The eggs of alligator gar are bright red and poisonous to humans if ingested.[19]


Alligator gar caught in Moon Lake, Mississippi, March 1910

Natural range

Alligator gar inhabit a wide variety of aquatic habitats, but most are found in the Southern United States in reservoirs and lakes, in the backwaters of lowland rivers, and in the brackish waters of estuaries, bayous and bays. They have occasionally been seen in the Gulf of Mexico.[19] In Texas and Louisiana it is common to see large gars breaking the surface in reservoirs, bayous, and brackish marshes. They are found throughout the lower Mississippi River Valley and Gulf Coast states of the Southern United States and Mexico as far south as Veracruz, encompassing the following states in the United States: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Florida, and Georgia.[25] Reports suggest alligator gar were once numerous throughout much of their northern range, however valid sightings today are rare, and may occur once every few years.[6] Records of historical distribution indicate alligator gar once inhabited regions as far north as central Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Iowa, and west-central Illinois where they are now listed as extirpated. The most northerly verified catch was in Meredosia, Illinois in 1922.[26] There are now efforts to reintroduce alligator gar between Tennessee and Illinois as part of an effort to control invasive Asian carp.[27]

Outside natural range

A few notable sightings of alligator gar have been reported outside North America. In November 2008, a broadhead gar, genus Atractosteus, measuring 5.2 to 6.4 ft (1.6 to 2.0 m) was caught in the Caspian Sea north of Esenguly, Turkmenistan by two officials of Turkmenistan Fishery Protection.[28] Its species is unconfirmed but is believed to be an alligator gar.[29]

On September 4, 2009 a 3 ft 3 in (0.99 m) alligator gar was found in Tak Wah Park in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong. Over the next two days, at least 16 other alligator gar, the largest measuring 4.9 ft (1.5 m), were found in ponds in public parks in Hong Kong.[30] Nearby residents reported the alligator gar had been released into the ponds by aquarium hobbyists, and had lived there for several years. However, after a complaint made by a citizen who falsely identified alligator gar as crocodiles, the use of terms like "horrible man-eating fish" had begun appearing in the headlines of some major local newspapers. Officials with Leisure and Cultural Services in Tak Wah Park removed all the alligator gar from the ponds because they were concerned the large, carnivorous fish might harm children.[31] It is not unusual for the large sharp teeth and outward appearance of alligator gar to precipitate unreasonable fear in those unfamiliar with the species. Sensationalized reports have contributed to the misconception of predatory attacks by alligator gar on humans even though none of the reports have been confirmed.[32]

On January 21, 2011, an alligator gar measuring 4 ft 11 in (1.50 m) was caught in a canal in Pasir Ris, Singapore by two recreational fishermen. The fish was taken to a nearby pond where the owner confirmed it was an alligator gar rather than an arapaima as the men had initially thought.[33]

There have been anecdotal reports of alligator gar captured in various parts of India but are believed to be the result of incidental releases by aquarium hobbyists and the like. In August 2015, an alligator gar was found entangled in cloth inside a well in Dadar where it had been living for quite some time. It was rescued by animal activists and returned to the well unharmed.[34] In June 2016, a 3.5 ft Alligator Gar was caught from Subhash Sarovar Lake in Kolkata.[35] Other incidents over the years have been random, ranging anywhere from captures in coastal waters during environmental assessments[36] to captures in private ponds.

Human utilization

Early history

Native Americans in the south, and Caribbean peoples used the alligator gar's ganoid scales for arrow heads, breastplates, and as shielding to cover plows. Early settlers tanned the skins to make a strong, durable leather to cover their wooden plows, make purses, and various other items. Gar oil was also used by the people of Arkansas as a repellent for buffalo-gnats.[21]

For nearly half a century, alligator gar were considered "trash fish",[2] or a "nuisance species" by state and federal authorities who targeted them for elimination to protect game fish populations,[4] and to prevent alleged attacks on humans, a claim that remains unsubstantiated with the exception of occasional injuries sustained from captured alligator gar thrashing around on the decks of boats.[19] Fishermen participated in the slaughter of thousands of alligator gar believing they were providing a great service. From 1992-1996, KUHT channel 8, a member PBS television station located on the campus of the University of Houston, presented for national broadcast the first video documentary ever produced on alligator gar. The documentary, "Alligator Gar:Predator or Prey?", debuted nationally in prime time during the 1992 July Sweeps drawing a 2.8 rating/4 share. According to the Nielsen rating report, it was the number one rated program of the evening. In January 1995, it was again the highest rated program in primetime with a 3.5 rating/6 share.[19] The documentary focused on the physiology and life cycle of alligator gar, addressed the destruction of habitat, the unregulated culling and over harvesting of alligator gar from various lakes in Texas and Louisiana, and expressed concerns for the future of the species at a time when they were still considered a "trash fish".[19] A decade passed before any significant action was taken to protect and preserve the remaining populations of alligator gar in the United States. The Missouri Department of Conservation has since partnered with Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana in restoration and management activities.[21]

1995 Choke Canyon Harvest On site processing Market display of gar fillets Fillets grilled and boiled
Ganoid scale jewelry Ganoid scale earrings

Sport fish

6 ft (1.8 m) 129 lb (59 kg) alligator gar caught by Steve Zeug and Clint Robertson, Brazos River, Texas, 2004

The long time public perception of alligator gar as "trash fish", or a "nuisance species" has changed with increasing national and international attention on the species as a sport fish which some have attributed to features on popular television shows. Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana allow regulated sport fishing of alligator gar. Texas has one of the best remaining fisheries for alligator gar, and in concert with its efforts to maintain a viable fishery, imposed a one-per-day bag limit on them in 2009.[37] The Texas state record, and world record for the largest alligator gar caught on rod and reel is 279 lb (127 kg), taken by Bill Valverde on January 1, 1951 on the Rio Grande in Texas.[38] Alligator gar are also quite popular among bowfishers because of their large size, trophy potential, and fighting ability. The Texas state bowfishing record was set In 2001 by Marty McClellan with a 290 lb (130 kg) alligator gar from the Trinity River. The all-tackle record was a 302 lb (137 kg) alligator gar caught on a trotline in 1953 by T.C. Pierce, Jr. In 1991, fishing guide Kirk Kirkland anecdotally reported catching an alligator gar measuring 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m) on rod and line from the Trinity River.[39]

Commercialization and aquaculture

Declining populations of alligator gar throughout their historic range has resulted in the need to monitor wild populations and regulate commercial harvests. Alligator gar have a high yield of white meat fillets and a small percentage of waste relative to body weight. The meat is sold to wholesale distributors, and also sold retail by a few supermarkets with prices starting at around $3.00/lb. Fried gar balls, grilled fillets, and fillets boiled in water with crab boil seasoning are popular dishes in the south. There is also a small cottage industry that makes jewelry out of ganoid scales, and tans gar hides to produce leather for making lamp shades, purses, and a host of novelty items.[19][21]

Atractosteus gars, including alligator gar, tropical gars, and Cuban gars are considered good candidates for aquaculture particularly in developing regions where their rapid growth, disease resistance, easy adaptation to artificial feeds as juveniles, and ability to tolerate low water quality are essential. Their ability to breathe in both air and water eliminates the need for costly aeration systems and other technology commonly used in aquaculture. In the Southern United States, as well as in parts of Mexico and Cuba, broodstocks have already been established, and are being maintained in their respective regions where they already are a popular food fish.[40]


Alligator gar maneuvering with pectoral fins in large zoo aquarium

Despite the large size alligator gar can attain, they are kept as aquarium fish, though many fish labeled as "alligator gar" in the aquarium trade are actually smaller species. Alligator gar require a very large aquarium or pond, and ample resources in order for them to thrive in captivity. They are also a popular fish for public aquaria, and zoos. It is illegal in many areas to keep alligator gar as pets, but they will occasionally show up in fish stores. Alligator gar are highly prized and sought after for private aquaria, particularly in Japan. According to some reports, large alligator gar could fetch as much as US$40,000 in what some consider the "Japanese black market".[41] In June 2011, three men from Florida and Louisiana were indicted on charges of illegally removing wild alligator gar from the Trinity River in Texas, and attempting to ship them to Japan for private collectors. The indictments resulted from an undercover sting operation by special agents with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.[42] The charges included violations of three separate provisions of the Lacey Act, specifically conspiracy to submit a false label for fish transported in interstate commerce; conspiracy to transport fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law or regulation; and conspiracy to transport and sell fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law or regulation.[43] Two of the conspirators entered guilty pleas to one count, and the government dropped the other two charges against them. A third conspirator went to trial on all three counts, was acquitted on one count, and found guilty on two. The district court sentenced him to serve nine months in prison followed by one year of supervised release.[44] The case was appealed, and on April 15, 2014, the appellate court affirmed the judgment of the district court.[45]


  1. ^ Froese, R.; Pauly, D. (2017). "Lepisosteidae". FishBase version (02/2017). Retrieved 18 May 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Brady, Tony (August 2013). "Fleur De Lis Fisheries" (PDF). US Fish & Wildlife Service. p. 2. 
  3. ^ Milbrath, Lester W. (1989). Envisioning a Sustainable Society: Learning Our Way Out. SUNY Press. p. 271. ISBN 9780791401620. 
  4. ^ a b Echevarria, Carlos (February 5, 2013). "Alligator Gar, Atractosteus spatula". Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery. US Fish & Wildlife Service. Retrieved July 7, 2014. 
  5. ^ Lochmann, S.E.; Baker, Brandon W.; Rachels, Kyle T.; Timmons, Brett A. "New Research". Aquaculture and Fisheries Center. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Retrieved June 18, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Goddard, Nathaniel. "Alligator Gar". FLMNH Ichthyology Department. Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula)". Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Retrieved March 8, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Vicksburg Man Catches 327 Lb. Alligator Gar". WAPT News. February 18, 2011. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. 
  9. ^ Love, Chad (February 23, 2011). "World Record Alligator Gar Pulled From Mississippi Lake Tangled in Fisherman's Net". Field & Stream. Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  10. ^ Tyus, Harold M. (2011). Ecology and Conservation of Fishes. CRC Press. p. 46. ISBN 9781439858547. 
  11. ^ "Biology of Fishes-Fish/Biol 311" (PDF). Swimbladder. University of Washington. Retrieved August 2, 2014. 
  12. ^ Perkins, Sid (September 23, 2015). "How The Enamel That Coats Your Teeth Evolved". AAAS. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Tooth Enamel May Have Evolved From Ancient Fish Scales". ABC Science. September 24, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  14. ^ Sherman, Vincent R.; Yaraghi, Nicholas A.; Kisailus, David; Meyers, Marc A. (2016-12-01). "Microstructural and geometric influences in the protective scales of Atractosteus spatula". Journal of The Royal Society Interface. 13 (125): 20160595. doi:10.1098/rsif.2016.0595. ISSN 1742-5689. PMID 27974575. 
  15. ^ Schwartz, Daniel E.; Allen, Peter J. (December 2013). "Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular and integrative physiology". Mississippi State University Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. 
  16. ^ "The American Naturalist". 35. University of Chicago Press. JSTOR 2453768. 
  17. ^ Warren, Melvin L. Jr.; Burr, Brooks M. Freshwater Fishes of North America. 1. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 250. ISBN 1421412012. 
  18. ^ Mayor, Adrienne (2005). Fossil Legends of the First Americans. Princeton University Press. p. 38. ISBN 9781400849314. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h "Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula)". 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  20. ^ Graham, Jeffrey B. (1997). Air-Breathing Fishes: Evolution, Diversity, and Adaptation. Academic Press. pp. 1–10. ISBN 0-12-294860-2. 
  21. ^ a b c d "Missouri Alligator Gar Management and Restoration Plan" (PDF). Missouri Department of Conservation Fisheries Division. January 22, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 6, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2016. 
  22. ^ Buckmeier, David L. (July 31, 2008). "Life History and Status of Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula), with Recommendations for Management" (PDF). Heart of Hills Fisheries Science Center. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. p. 5. Retrieved July 7, 2014. 
  23. ^ a b "BBest Recommendations Report" (PDF). Sabine/Neches BBest Biological Overlay Approach. Best Biological Subcommittee, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, U.S. November 2, 2009. p. 8. Retrieved July 7, 2014. 
  24. ^ a b Thompkins, Shannon (April 19, 2014). "Once a nuisance, alligator gar increasingly protected". Houston Chronicle. 
  25. ^ "Alligator Gar Technical Committee". Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  26. ^ Poly, William J. (2001). "Distribution of the Alligator Gar, Atractosteus spatula (Lacépède, 1803), in Illinois" (PDF). Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science. 94 (3): 185–190. 
  27. ^ Webber, Tammy (July 29, 2016). "Huge, once-hated fish now seen as weapon against Asian carp". Pantagraph. Associated Press. Retrieved July 31, 2016. [permanent dead link]
  28. ^ "Hazar deňziniň türkmen kenarynda amerikan sowutly çortanyň tutulmagynyň ilkinji wakasy" (in Turkmen). Türkmenistanyň Tebigaty goramak ministrligi. Retrieved May 18, 2015. 
  29. ^ Salnikov, V. B. (April 2011). "Russian Journal of Biological Invasions". Erratum to: "First Finding of Gar Atractosteus sp. (Actinopterygii, Lepisosteiformes, Lepisosteidae) in the Caspian Sea near the Coast of Turkmenistan". Springer. 2 (2): 240. doi:10.1134/S2075111711030118. 
  30. ^ "Monster Exotic Fish Found In Hong Kong Ponds". ABS-CBN News. September 5, 2009. Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  31. ^ Nip, Amy (January 10, 2010). "Feared in public ponds, admired behind glass". South China Morning Post. 
  32. ^ Spitzer, Mark. "When Gars Attack". Southeast Missouri State University. Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  33. ^ "Friends Catch 1.5m 'Monster' Fish From Pasir Ris Canal After Long Struggle". The Straits Times. January 21, 2011. [permanent dead link]
  34. ^ Singh, Vijay (August 6, 2015). "Exotic Alligator Gar fish rescued in Dadar". The Times of India. Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Retrieved December 6, 2015. 
  35. ^ Kolkata: Discovery of predator fish that resembles an alligator concerns experts. Hindustan Times (June 22, 2016). Retrieved on 2016-11-10.
  36. ^ Kumaraguru, A.K.; Kannan, R. and Sundaramahalingam, A. (March 2000). "Studies on Socioeconomics of Coral Reef Resource Users in the Gulf of Mannar Coast, South India" (PDF). Planning Commission Project. Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies. Retrieved December 6, 2015. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  37. ^ "Alligator Gar". Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Retrieved April 21, 2014. 
  38. ^ "State Freshwater Records: Rod and Reel". Texas Parks & Wildlife. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  39. ^ "Big Fish Stories Can Have Happier Endings". Texas Parks & Wildlife. May 16, 2011. 
  40. ^ Alfaro, Roberto M.; Gonzales, Carlos A.; Ferrara, Allyse (2008). "Gar biology and culture: status and prospects" (PDF). Chapter 39. Aquaculture Research. pp. 748–763. Retrieved July 7, 2014. 
  41. ^ Horswell, Cindy (June 17, 2011). "Indictments accuse 3 of taking alligator gar fish out of Trinity". Houston Chronicle. 
  42. ^ Berstein, Jon (October 15, 2011). "Monster fish tale: Alligator gar sting ends in conviction". SunSentinel. 
  43. ^ "Accused alligator gar smugglers busted in trinity river operation". ABC 9 KTRE. 2011. 
  44. ^ "United States v. Loren Willis et al., Nos. 9:11-CR-00028, 1:11-CR-20676 (E.D. Tex., S.D. Fla.), AUSAs Reynaldo Morin and Jaime Raiche" (PDF). Monthly Bulletin. Regional EnvironmentalEnforcement Association. October 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  45. ^ "Opinions" (PDF). U.S. Court of Appeals. April 15, 2014. 

Further reading

External links


Guadalupe Bass

Guadalupe Bass Gyotaku by Inked Animal

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:

Guadalupe Bass
Guadalupe bass - Micropterus treculii.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Centrarchidae
Genus: Micropterus
Species: M. treculii
Binomial name
Micropterus treculii
(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 is listed as Near Threatened.[2] 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 fish 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 3.71 lbs (3 lbs 11.360 oz.), caught by Dr. Bryan Townsend of Austin in 2014. The fish is only found in Edward's Plateau in central Texas. Its main habitats are the San Marcos, Colorado, Llano, 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 Guadalupe Bass 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; they are absent from extreme headwaters. The Guadalupe Bass prefer flowing waters of streams within native variety, and use covers like large rocks, cypress trees or stumps for refuge.


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 fishermen 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 Brook Trout" and make 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 fishermen are at a large advantage.


  1. ^ NatureServe (2014). "Micropterus treculii". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2014: e.T13405A19032728. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T13405A19032728.en. Retrieved 10 November 2017. 
  2. ^ Gimenez Dixon, M. (1996). "Micropterus treculii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 


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