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


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]


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  3. ^ Milbrath, Lester W. (1989). Envisioning a Sustainable Society: Learning Our Way Out. SUNY Press. p. 271. ISBN 9780791401620. 
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  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. 
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  28. ^ "Hazar deňziniň türkmen kenarynda amerikan sowutly çortanyň tutulmagynyň ilkinji wakasy" (in Turkmen). Türkmenistanyň Tebigaty goramak ministrligi. Retrieved May 18, 2015. 
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  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


Nature Impressions: Riusuke Fukahori’s genius

This is easily the best thing I’ve found for this blog series so far.  This is why in my opinion:

1. It deals with fish (big plus in my book)

2. It is a novel medium (to me at least)

3. It is a beautiful balance of art and nature (prerequisite for sharing).



Fukahori’s work is a mind bending expression that attempts to capture nature’s unique moments.  What I see in this art is reminiscent of what one might experience when gazing into a stream along its bank, everything frozen in time.  He has mastered painting images into 3D blocks of resin, painting a layer, adding resin, painting a layer, adding resin, and so on.  The effect is stunningly realistic scenes of fish swimming in schools in small containers. Most of his paintings are of goldfish or carp. See our Asian Carp gyotaku, Common Carp, for an alternate version of an artistic impression of this fish. The artist’s website is here.

Images from Dominic’s pics on Flickr

Here’s a video of him in action; enjoy

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. 



Blacktip Shark 2

Blacktip Shark 2 by Inked Animal

Blacktip Shark | Carcharhinus limbatus

Blacktip Shark info via Wikipedia:

Not to be confused with the blacktip reef shark, Carcharhinus melanopterus.
Blacktip shark
Carcharhinus limbatus (2).jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Order: Carcharhiniformes
Family: Carcharhinidae
Genus: Carcharhinus
Species: C. limbatus
Binomial name
Carcharhinus limbatus
(J. P. Müller & Henle, 1839)
Carcharhinus limbatus distmap.png
Range of the blacktip shark

Carcharias abbreviatus Klunzinger, 1871
Carcharias aethalorus Jordan & Gilbert, 1882
Carcharias ehrenbergi Klunzinger, 1871
Carcharias maculipinna Günther, 1868
Carcharias microps Lowe, 1841
Carcharias muelleri Steindachner, 1867
Carcharias phorcys Jordan & Evermann, 1903
Carcharias pleurotaenia Bleeker, 1852
Carcharhinus natator Meek & Hildebrand, 1923

The blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) is a species of requiem shark, and part of the family Carcharhinidae. It is common to coastal tropical and subtropical waters around the world, including brackish habitats. Genetic analyses have revealed substantial variation within this species, with populations from the western Atlantic Ocean isolated and distinct from those in the rest of its range. The blacktip shark has a stout, fusiform body with a pointed snout, long gill slits, and no ridge between the dorsal fins. Most individuals have black tips or edges on the pectoral, dorsal, pelvic, and caudal fins. It usually attains a length of 1.5 m (4.9 ft).

Swift, energetic piscivores, blacktip sharks are known to make spinning leaps out of the water while attacking schools of small fish. Their demeanor has been described as "timid" compared to other large requiem sharks. Both juveniles and adults form groups of varying size. Like other members of its family, the blacktip shark is viviparous; females bear one to 10 pups every other year. Young blacktip sharks spend the first months of their lives in shallow nurseries, and grown females return to the nurseries where they were born to give birth themselves. In the absence of males, females are also capable of asexual reproduction.

Normally wary of humans, blacktip sharks can become aggressive in the presence of food and have been responsible for a number of attacks on people. This species is of importance to both commercial and recreational fisheries across many parts of its range, with its meat, skin, fins, and liver oil used. It has been assessed as Near Threatened by the IUCN, on the basis of its low reproductive rate and high value to fishers.


The blacktip shark was first described by French zoologist Achille Valenciennes as Carcharias (Prionodon) limbatus in Johannes Müller and Friedrich Henle's 1839 Systematische Beschreibung der Plagiostomen. The type specimens were two individuals caught off Martinique, both of which have since been lost. Later authors moved this species to the genus Carcharhinus.[1][2] The specific epithet limbatus is Latin for "bordered", referring to the black edges of this shark's fins.[3] Other common names used for the blacktip shark include blackfin shark, blacktip whaler, common or small blacktip shark, grey shark, and spotfin ground shark.[4]

Phylogeny and evolution

The closest relatives of the blacktip shark were originally thought to be the graceful shark (C. amblyrhynchoides) and the spinner shark (C. brevipinna), due to similarities in morphology and behavior. However, this interpretation has not been borne out by studies of mitochondrial and ribosomal DNA, which instead suggest affinity with the blacknose shark (C. acronotus). More work is required to fully resolve the relationship between the blacktip shark and other Carcharhinus species.[5]

Analysis of mitochondrial DNA has also revealed two distinct lineages within this species, one occupying the western Atlantic and the other occupying the eastern Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. This suggests that Indo-Pacific blacktip sharks are descended from those in the eastern Atlantic, while the western Atlantic sharks became isolated by the widening Atlantic Ocean on one side and the formation of the Isthmus of Panama on the other. Blacktip sharks from these two regions differ in morphology, coloration, and life history characteristics, and the eastern Atlantic lineage may merit species status.[6] Fossil teeth belonging to this species have been found in Early Miocene (23–16 Ma) deposits in Delaware and Florida.[7][8]


The blacktip shark has a robust, streamlined body with a long, pointed snout and relatively small eyes. The five pairs of gill slits are longer than those of similar requiem shark species.[1] The jaws contain 15 tooth rows on either side, with two symphysial teeth (at the jaw midline) in the upper jaw and one symphysial tooth in the lower jaw. The teeth are broad-based with a high, narrow cusp and serrated edges.[2] The first dorsal fin is tall and falcate (sickle-shaped) with a short free rear tip; no ridge runs between the first and second dorsal fins. The large pectoral fins are falcate and pointed.[1]

The coloration is gray to brown above and white below, with a conspicuous white stripe running along the sides. The pectoral fins, second dorsal fin, and the lower lobe of the caudal fin usually have black tips. The pelvic fins and rarely the anal fin may also be black-tipped. The first dorsal fin and the upper lobe of the caudal fin typically have black edges.[1] Some larger individuals have unmarked or nearly unmarked fins.[3] Blacktip sharks can temporarily lose almost all their colors during blooms, or "whitings", of coccolithophores.[9] This species attains a maximum known length of 2.8 m (9.2 ft), though 1.5 m (4.9 ft) is more typical, and a maximum known weight of 123 kg (271 lb).[4]

Distribution and habitat

A blacktip shark swimming in murky water off Oahu, Hawaii

The blacktip shark has a worldwide distribution in tropical and subtropical waters. In the Atlantic, it is found from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, and from the Mediterranean Sea, Madeira, and the Canary Islands to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It occurs all around the periphery of the Indian Ocean, from South Africa and Madagascar to the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent, to Southeast Asia. In the western Pacific, it is found from the Ryukyu Islands of Japan[10] to northern Australia, including southern China, the Philippines and Indonesia. In the eastern Pacific, it occurs from Baja California to Peru. It has also been reported at a number of Pacific islands, including New Caledonia, Tahiti, the Marquesas, Hawaii, Revillagigedo, and the Galápagos.[1]

Most blacktip sharks are found in water less than 30 m (98 ft) deep over continental and insular shelves, though they may dive to 64 m (210 ft).[4] Favored habitats are muddy bays, island lagoons, and the drop-offs near coral reefs; they are also tolerant of low salinity and enter estuaries and mangrove swamps. Although an individual may be found some distance offshore, blacktip sharks do not inhabit oceanic waters.[1] Seasonal migration has been documented for the population off the east coast of the United States, moving north to North Carolina in the summer and south to Florida in the winter.[11]

Biology and ecology

The blacktip shark is an extremely fast, energetic predator that is usually found in groups of varying size.[3] Segregation by sex and age does not occur; adult males and nonpregnant females are found apart from pregnant females, and both are separated from juveniles.[1] In Terra Ceia Bay, Florida, a nursery area for this species, juvenile blacktips form aggregations during the day and disperse at night. They aggregate most strongly in the early summer when the sharks are youngest, suggesting that they are seeking refuge from predators (mostly larger sharks) in numbers.[12] Predator avoidance may also be the reason why juvenile blacktips do not congregate in the areas of highest prey density in the bay.[13] Adults have no known predators.[2] Known parasites of the blacktip shark include the copepods Pandarus sinuatus and P. smithii, and the monogeneans Dermophthirius penneri and Dionchus spp., which attach the shark's skin.[2][14][15] This species is also parasitized by nematodes in the family Philometridae, which infest the ovaries.[16]


Blacktip sharks are social and usually found in groups.

Like the spinner shark, the blacktip shark is known to leap out of the water and spin three or four times about its axis before landing. Some of these jumps are the end product of feeding runs, in which the shark corkscrews vertically through schools of small fish and its momentum launches it into the air.[3] Observations in the Bahamas suggest that blacktip sharks may also jump out of the water to dislodge attached sharksuckers (Echeneis naucrates), which irritate the shark's skin and compromise its hydrodynamic shape.[17] The speed attained by the shark during these jumps has been estimated to average 6.3 m/s (21 ft/s).[18]

Blacktip sharks have a timid disposition and consistently lose out to Galapagos sharks (C. galapagensis) and silvertip sharks (C. albimarginatus) of equal size when competing for food.[1] If threatened or challenged, they may perform an agonistic display: the shark swims towards the threat and then turns away, while rolling from side to side, lowering its pectoral fins, tilting its head and tail upwards, and making sideways biting motions. The entire sequence lasts around 25 seconds. This behavior is similar to the actions of a shark attempting to move a sharksucker; one of these behaviors possibly is derived from the other.[19]


Fish make up some 90% of the blacktip shark's diet.[20] A wide variety of fish have been recorded as prey for this species: sardines, herring, anchovies, ladyfish, sea catfish, cornetfish, flatfish, threadfins, mullet, mackerel, jacks, groupers, snook, porgies, mojarras, emperors, grunts, butterfish, tilapia, triggerfish, boxfish, and porcupinefish. They also feed on rays and skates, as well as smaller sharks such as smoothhounds and sharpnose sharks. Crustaceans and cephalopods are occasionally taken.[1] In the Gulf of Mexico, the most important prey of the blacktip shark is the Gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus), followed by the Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus).[20] Off South Africa, jacks and herring are the most important prey.[21] Hunting peaks at dawn and dusk.[20] The excitability and sociability of blacktip sharks makes them prone to feeding frenzies when large quantities of food are suddenly available, such as when fishing vessels dump their refuse overboard.[1]

Life history

As with other requiem sharks, the blacktip shark exhibits vivipary. Females typically give birth to four to seven (range one to 10) pups every other year, making use of shallow coastal nurseries that offer plentiful food and fewer predators.[1] Known nurseries include Pine Island Sound, Terra Ceia Bay, and Yankeetown along the Gulf Coast of Florida, Bulls Bay on the coast of South Carolina, and Pontal do Paraná on the coast of Brazil.[22][23] Although adult blacktip sharks are highly mobile and disperse over long distances, they are philopatric and return to their original nursery areas to give birth. This results in a series of genetically distinct breeding stocks that overlap in geographic range.[22][24]

Mating occurs from spring to early summer, and the young are born around the same time the following year after a gestation period of 10–12 months.[1] Females have one functional ovary and two functional uteri; each uterus is separated into compartments with a single embryo inside each.[25] The embryos are initially sustained by a yolk sac; in the 10th or 11th week of gestation, when the embryo measures 18–19 cm long (7.1–7.5 in), the supply of yolk is exhausted and the yolk sac develops into a placental connection that sustains the embryo until birth.[11] The length at birth is 55–60 cm (22–24 in) off the eastern United States and 61–65 cm (24–26 in) off North Africa.[11][25] The mortality rate in the first 15 months of life is 61–91%, with major threats being predation and starvation.[26] The young remain in the nurseries until their first fall, when they migrate to their wintering grounds.[11]

The growth rate of this species slows with age: 25–30 cm (9.8–11.8 in) in the first six months, then 20 cm (7.9 in) a year until the second year, then 10 cm (3.9 in) a year until maturation, then 5 cm (2.0 in) a year for adults.[27][28] The size at maturity varies geographically: males and females mature at 1.4–1.5 m (4.6–4.9 ft) and 1.6 m (5.2 ft), respectively, in the northeastern Atlantic,[11] 1.3–1.4 m (4.3–4.6 ft) and 1.5–1.6 m (4.9–5.2 ft), respectively, in the Gulf of Mexico,[27][29] 1.5 and 1.6 m (4.9 and 5.2 ft) respectively off South Africa,[30] and 1.7 and 1.8 m (5.6 and 5.9 ft), respectively, off North Africa.[25] The age at maturation is 4–5 years for males and 7–8 years for females.[27][29] The lifespan is at least 12 years.[1]

In 2007, a 9-year-old female blacktip shark at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center was found to be pregnant with a single near-term female pup, despite having never mated with a male. Genetic analysis confirmed that her offspring was the product of automictic parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction in which an ovum merges with a polar body to form a zygote without fertilization. Along with an earlier case of parthenogenesis in the bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo), this event suggests that asexual reproduction may be more widespread in sharks than previously thought.[31]

Human interactions

The blacktip shark usually poses little danger to divers.

Blacktip sharks showing curiosity towards divers has been reported, but they remain at a safe distance. Under most circumstances, these timid sharks are not regarded as highly dangerous to humans. However, they may become aggressive in the presence of food, and their size and speed invite respect.[1] As of 2008, the International Shark Attack File lists 28 unprovoked attacks (one fatal) and 13 provoked attacks by this species.[32] Blacktip sharks are responsible annually for 16% of the shark attacks around Florida. Most attacks by this species result in only minor wounds.[2]

As one of the most common large sharks in coastal waters, the blacktip shark is caught in large numbers by commercial fisheries throughout the world, using longlines, fixed-bottom nets, bottom trawls, and hook-and-line. The meat is of high quality and marketed fresh, frozen, or dried and salted. In addition, the fins are used for shark fin soup, the skin for leather, the liver oil for vitamins, and the carcasses for fishmeal.[1] Blacktip sharks are one of the most important species to the northwestern Atlantic shark fishery, second only to the sandbar shark (C. plumbeus). The flesh is considered superior to that of the sandbar shark, resulting in the sandbar and other requiem shark species being sold under the name "blacktip shark" in the United States. The blacktip shark is also very significant to Indian and Mexican fisheries, and is caught in varying numbers by fisheries in the Mediterranean and South China Seas, and off northern Australia.[28]

The blacktip shark is popular with recreational anglers in Florida, the Caribbean, and South Africa. It is listed as a game fish by the International Game Fish Association. Once hooked, this species is a strong, steady fighter that sometimes jumps out of the water.[2] Since 1995, the number of blacktip sharks taken by recreational anglers in the United States has approached or surpassed the number taken by commercial fishing.[28] The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed the blacktip shark as Near Threatened, as its low reproductive rate renders it vulnerable to overfishing.[33] The United States and Australia are the only two countries that manage fisheries catching blacktip sharks. In both cases, regulation occurs under umbrella management schemes for multiple shark species, such as that for the large coastal sharks category of the US National Marine Fisheries Service Atlantic shark Fisheries Management Plan. No conservation plans specifically for this species have been implemented.[28]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Compagno, L.J.V. (1984). Sharks of the World: An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Shark Species Known to Date. Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization. pp. 481–483. ISBN 92-5-101384-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Curtis, T. Biological Profiles: Blacktip Shark. Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department. Retrieved on April 27, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Ebert, D.A. (2003). Sharks, Rays, and Chimaeras of California. London: University of California Press. pp. 156–157. ISBN 0-520-23484-7. 
  4. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2009). "Carcharhinus limbatus" in FishBase. April 2009 version.
  5. ^ Dosay-Akbulut, M. (2008). "The phylogenetic relationship within the genus Carcharhinus". Comptes Rendus Biologies. 331 (7): 500–509. doi:10.1016/j.crvi.2008.04.001. PMID 18558373. 
  6. ^ Keeney, D.B. & Heist, E.J. (October 2006). "Worldwide phylogeography of the blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) inferred from mitochondrial DNA reveals isolation of western Atlantic populations coupled with recent Pacific dispersal". Molecular Ecology. 15 (12): 3669–3679. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.03036.x. PMID 17032265. 
  7. ^ Benson. R.N., ed. (1998). Geology and Paleontology of the Lower Miocene Pollack Farm Fossil Site, Delaware: Delaware Geological Survey Special Publication No. 21. Delaware Natural History Survey. pp. 133–139. 
  8. ^ Brown, R.C. (2008). Florida's Fossils: Guide to Location, Identification, and Enjoyment (third ed.). Pineapple Press Inc. p. 100. ISBN 1-56164-409-9. 
  9. ^ Martin, R.A. Albinism in Sharks. ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research. Retrieved on April 28, 2009.
  10. ^ Yano, Kazunari; Morrissey, John F. (1999-06-01). "Confirmation of blacktip shark,Carcharhinus limbatus, in the Ryukyu Islands and notes on possible absence ofC. melanopterus in Japanese waters". Ichthyological Research. 46 (2): 193–198. doi:10.1007/BF02675438. ISSN 1341-8998. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Castro, J.I. (November 1996). "Biology of the blacktip shark, Carcharhinus limbatus, off the southeastern United States". Bulletin of Marine Science. 59 (3): 508–522. 
  12. ^ Heupel, M.R. & Simpfendorfer, C.A. (2005). "Quantitative analysis of aggregation behavior in juvenile blacktip sharks". Marine Biology. 147 (5): 1239–1249. doi:10.1007/s00227-005-0004-7. 
  13. ^ Heupel, M.R. & Hueter, R.E. (2002). "The importance of prey density in relation to the movement patterns of juvenile sharks within a coastal nursery area". Marine and Freshwater Research. 53 (2): 543–550. doi:10.1071/MF01132. 
  14. ^ Bullard, S.A.; Frasca, A. (Jr.) & Benz, G.W. (June 2000). "Skin Lesions Caused by Dermophthirius penneri (Monogenea: Microbothriidae) on Wild-Caught Blacktip Sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus)". Journal of Parasitology. 86 (3): 618–622. doi:10.1645/0022-3395(2000)086[0618:SLCBDP]2.0.CO;2. PMID 10864264. 
  15. ^ Bullard, S.A.; Benz, G.W. & Braswell, J.S. (2000). "Dionchus postoncomiracidia (Monogenea: Dionchidae) from the skin of blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus (Carcharhinidae)". Journal of Parasitology. 86 (2): 245–250. doi:10.1645/0022-3395(2000)086[0245:DPMDFT]2.0.CO;2. JSTOR 3284763. PMID 10780540. 
  16. ^ Rosa-Molinar, E. & Williams, C.S. (1983). "Larval nematodes (Philometridae) in granulomas in ovaries of blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus (Valenciennes)". Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 19 (3): 275–277. doi:10.7589/0090-3558-19.3.275. PMID 6644926. 
  17. ^ Riner, E.K. & Brijnnschweiler, J.M. (2003). "Do sharksuckers, Echeneis naucrates, induce jump behaviour in blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus?". Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology. 36 (2): 111–113. doi:10.1080/1023624031000119584. 
  18. ^ Brunnschweiler, J.M. (2005). "Water-escape velocities in jumping blacktip sharks". Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 2 (4): 389–391. doi:10.1098/rsif.2005.0047. PMC 1578268Freely accessible. PMID 16849197. 
  19. ^ Ritter, E.K. & Godknecht, A.J. (February 1, 2000). Ross, S. T., ed. "Agonistic Displays in the Blacktip Shark (Carcharhinus limbatus)". Copeia. 2000 (1): 282–284. doi:10.1643/0045-8511(2000)2000[0282:ADITBS]2.0.CO;2. JSTOR 1448264. 
  20. ^ a b c Barry, K.P. (2002). Feeding habits of blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, and Atlantic sharpnose sharks, Rhizoprionodon terraenovae, in Louisiana coastal waters. MS thesis, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.
  21. ^ Dudley, S.F.J. & Cliff, G. (1993). "Sharks caught in the protective gill nets off Natal, South Africa. 7. The blacktip shark Carcharhinus limbatus (Valenciennes)". African Journal of Marine Science. 13: 237–254. doi:10.2989/025776193784287356. 
  22. ^ a b Keeney, D.B.; Heupel, M.; Hueter, R.E. & Heist, E.J. (2003). "Genetic heterogeneity among blacktip shark, Carcharhinus limbatus, continental nurseries along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico". Marine Biology. 143 (6): 1039–1046. doi:10.1007/s00227-003-1166-9. 
  23. ^ Bornatowski, H. (2008). "A parturition and nursery area for Carcharhinus limbatus (Elasmobranchii, Carcharhinidae) off the coast of Paraná, Brazil". Brazilian Journal of Oceanography. 56 (4): 317–319. doi:10.1590/s1679-87592008000400008. 
  24. ^ Keeney, D.B.; Heupel, M.R.; Hueter, R.E. & Heist, E.J. (2005). "Microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA analyses of the genetic structure of blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) nurseries in the northwestern Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea". Molecular Ecology. 14 (7): 1911–1923. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2005.02549.x. PMID 15910315. 
  25. ^ a b c Capapé, C.H.; Seck, A.A.; Diatta, Y.; Reynaud, C.H.; Hemida, F. & Zaouali, J. (2004). "Reproductive biology of the blacktip shark, Carcharhinus limbatus (Chondrichthyes: Carcharhinidae) off West and North African Coasts" (PDF). Cybium. 28 (4): 275–284. 
  26. ^ Heupel, M.R. & Simpfendorfer, C.A. (2002). "Estimation of mortality of juvenile blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, within a nursery area using telemetry data". Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 59 (4): 624–632. doi:10.1139/f02-036. 
  27. ^ a b c Branstetter, S. (December 9, 1987). "Age and Growth Estimates for Blacktip, Carcharhinus limbatus, and Spinner, C. brevipinna, Sharks from the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico". Copeia. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. 1987 (4): 964–974. doi:10.2307/1445560. JSTOR 1445560. 
  28. ^ a b c d Fowler, S.L.; Cavanagh, R.D.; Camhi, M.; Burgess, G.H.; Cailliet, G.M.; Fordham, S.V.; Simpfendorfer, C.A. & Musick, J.A. (2005). Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras: The Status of the Chondrichthyan Fishes. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. pp. 106–109, 293–295. ISBN 2-8317-0700-5. 
  29. ^ a b Killam, K.A. & Parsons, G.R. (May 1989). "Age and Growth of the Blacktip Shark, Carcharhinus limbatus, near Tampa Bay" (PDF). Florida Fishery Bulletin. 87: 845–857. 
  30. ^ Wintner, S.P. & Cliff, G. (1996). "Age and growth determination of the blacktip shark, Carcharhinus limbatus, from the east coast of South Africa" (PDF). Fishery Bulletin. 94 (1): 135–144. 
  31. ^ Chapman, D.D.; Firchau, B. & Shivji, M.S. (2008). "Parthenogenesis in a large-bodied requiem shark, the blacktip Carcharhinus limbatus". Journal of Fish Biology. 73 (6): 1473–1477. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2008.02018.x. 
  32. ^ ISAF Statistics on Attacking Species of Shark. International Shark Attack File, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida. Retrieved on April 22, 2009.
  33. ^ Musick, J.A.; Fowler, S. (2000). "Carcharhinus limbatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2007. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved April 27, 2009. 

Gafftopsail Catfish 2

Gafftopsail Catfish 2 by Inked Animal
Gafftopsail Catfish | Bagre marinus

 This Gyotaku deserves to be on a chinese restaurant’s wall.  Its very asian looking with the extremely falcate fins.  This animal was caught by either Adam or myself on a fishing trip to Matagorda Bay, one of our usual stomping grounds and sources for much of our saltwater material.  It is an interesting print, and misleading categorization, being that it doesn’t have scales.  Many catfish don’t have scales, but smooth skin which comes out in this print in an interesting way. Notice the wrinkles and paper creases.  Also, the long “swoop” from its chin back is the very long barbel that is covered in essentially taste buds.  Its what this animal uses to sense food.  If you like cats, make sure you check out Gafftop Catfish, Hardhead Catfish, and Hardhead Catfish – head.








Gafftopsail Catfish info via wikipedia:

Gafftopsail catfish
Bagre marinus (line art).jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Ariidae
Genus: Bagre
Species: B. marinus
Binomial name
Bagre marinus
(Mitchill, 1815)
  • Silurus marinus Mitchill, 1815
  • Felichthys marinus (Mitchill, 1815)
  • Galeichthys blochii Valenciennes, 1840
  • Galeichthys parrae Valenciennes, 1840
  • Galeichthys bahiensis Castelnau, 1855
  • Aelurichthys longispinis Günther, 1864

The gafftopsail catfish (Bagre marinus) is found in the waters of the western central Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It has long venomous spines which can cause painful wounds. It feeds on crustaceans and other fish. The male of the species fertilizes the eggs of the female, and broods them in his mouth until they hatch. The gafftopsail feeds throughout the water column. This fish is a common catch in the Southeastern US, although it may be found as far north as New York. In fishing, they are considered strong fighters. They are taken from piers, jetties, reefs, and the surf, as well as bottom fishing or flats fishing. They are caught with lures, cut bait, and shrimp, as well as soft plastics. Some fishermen use traps for catfish, which is regulated by some states.


It lives on the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico coastlines from Cape Cod to Brazil.[1] It is also found in brackish waters, including estuaries, lagoons, brackish seas, and mangroves. It is generally common to abundant in its range.[1]


The gafftopsail catfish is blue-grey to dark brown with a light grey belly. Its appearance is typical for a catfish except for the deeply forked tail and the venomous, serrated spines. It also has a little hump that looks somewhat like a wave. The typical length of a mature gafftopsail catfish is about 17 in (43 cm). The anal fin is a few inches anterior to the tail and is white or pale blue, with 22-28 rays on it and a high, anterior lobe.[3] The pelvic fin is 6–12 in (15–30 cm) anterior to the tail fin. The gafftopsail catfish has maxillary barbels and one pair of barbels on the chin. It resembles the hardhead catfish, but its dorsal spine has a distinctive fleshy extension (like the fore-and-aft topsail of a ship).

The primary food of juveniles is unidentifiable organic matter; the secondary food is fish, with smaller amounts from other trophic groups. Unlike many other catfish, which are primarily bottom feeders, the gafftopsail catfish feeds throughout the water column. It eats mostly crustaceans, including crabs, shrimp, and prawns (95% of the diet), but it will also eat worms, other invertebrates, and bony fishes (about 5% of the diet).[4] In addition to humans, predators of the gafftopsail catfish include the tiger shark and bull shark.

Gafftopsail catfish spawn over inshore mudflats during a relatively short time span (10 days) from May to August;[5] they are mouthbreeders. The eggs are about 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter. Males keep up to 55 eggs in their mouths until they hatch. Young are about 5 cm (2 inches) long when they hatch, and the male may continue to brood them until they are up to 4 in (10 cm) long. The males do not feed while they are carrying the eggs or young.[6]


The gafftopsail catfish is a common catch in the Southeastern United States, although it is also caught as far north as New York. They are taken from piers, jetties, reefs, and the surf, as well as bottom fishing or flats fishing. They are caught with lures such as plugs, spoons, spinners, cut bait, and shrimp, as well as soft plastic lure resembling shrimp, worms, and shad. They are attracted to the sound of struggling fish, like a popping cork creates. Catfish trapping is also used to capture them, but is regulated in some states. Catfish traps include “slat traps,” long wooden traps with an angled entrance, and wire hoop traps. Typical bait for these traps includes rotten cheese and dog food.

Gafftopsail catfish are good eating; the red lateral line should be removed to prevent “muddy taste”; however in Gafftopsail taken from southern Florida mangrove estuaries, this is seemingly unnecessary. The pectoral fins and dorsal fin contain venomous spines; care should be used when handling this fish.

Weight and length

Growth chart

The largest recorded weight for a gafftopsail catfish is 4.5 kg (9.9 lb)[7] and 69 cm (27 in) in length.[8] A more common weight and length of gafftopsails caught is 1–2 lb (450–910 g) and 12–16 in (30–41 cm).

As gafftopsail catfish grow longer, they increase in weight, but the relationship is not linear. The relationship between total length (L, in inches) and total weight (W, in pounds) for nearly all species of 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 the constant ct varies between species.[9] Data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission indicate, for the gafftopsail catfish, c = 0.000493 and b = 3.075[10] The relationship described in this section suggests a 12-inch gafftopsail catfish will weigh about one pound, while a 20-inch fish will likely weigh about five pounds.


  1. ^ a b c Chao, L.; Vega-Cendejas, M.; Tolan, J.; Jelks, H. & Espinosa-Perez, H. (2015). "Bagre marinus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2015: e.T196806A2476570. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T196806A2476570.en. Retrieved 14 January 2018. 
  2. ^ "Synonyms of Bagre marinus (Mitchill, 1815)". Retrieved 29 July 2017. 
  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, pp. 85 & 346
  4. ^ Food and Feeding Habits Summary - Bagre Marinus see online accessed 11 March 2010
  5. ^ Muncy R.J., Wingo W.M.,Species Profiles: Life Histories and Environmental Requirements of Coastal Fishes and Invertebrates (Gulf of Mexico): Sea Catfish and Gafftopsail Catfish read online p. 4
  6. ^ Smith, pp. 85 & 346
  7. ^ IGFA 2007 Database of IGFA angling records. IGFA, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA, gafftopsail&LC=ATR
  8. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2017). "Bagre marinus" in FishBase. February 2017 version.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ average of data for male and female gafftopsail catfish at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Report 2008 accessed 7 March 2010

Redbreast Sunfish

Redbreast Sunfish Gyotaku by Inked Animal

Redbreast Sunfish | Lepomis auritus




Redbreast Sunfish info via Wikipedia:

Redbreast sunfish
Lepomis auritus.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Centrarchidae
Genus: Lepomis
Species: L. auritus
Binomial name
Lepomis auritus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auritus) is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family (family Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes. The type species of its genus, it is native to the river systems of eastern Canada and the United States. The redbreast sunfish reaches a maximum recorded length of about 30 cm (12 in), with a maximum recorded weight of 790 g (1.7 lb).

The species prefers vegetated and rocky pools and lake margins for its habitat. Its diet can include insects, snails, and other small invertebrates. A panfish popular with anglers, the redbreast sunfish is also kept as an aquarium fish by hobbyists. Redbreast sunfish are usually caught with live bait such as nightcrawlers, crickets, grasshoppers, waxworms, or mealworms. They can also be caught using small lures or flies. Most anglers use light spinning tackle to catch redbreast sunfish. It is popular with fly anglers in the winter because it will more readily strike a moving fly than will bluegills in cooler water.

As is typical for the sunfishes, the female redbreast sunfish lays her eggs (about 1000) in a substrate depression built by the male. The male guards the eggs and fry.

Lepomis auritus has been transplanted to and become established in Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, sometimes with a harmful effect on native species.

The specific epithet, auritus, is Latin for big-eared.

Typical redbreast sunfish from the Tallapoosa River, Alabama (released)


Redbreasted Sunfish - Lepomis auritus from Maryland
Redbreast Sunfish Caught on 1/8oz Rooster Tail in Georgia

The species native range is condensed to eastern North America, in Canada and south to the rivers emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. The species has been introduced as far west as Texas. This fish primarily feeds on small insect larva, small crayfish, and sometimes small fish. Lepomis auritus thrives in streams and rivers with shelter and structure, usually around banks with the water pH around 7.0-7.5. The redbreast sunfish is a spring spawner in sand-gravel substrate depending on location, or when water temperatures reach 16-26 °C. Average clutch size for the sunfish is around 2000 depending on the age of the female. The average length of the sunfish is around 11 cm with a record 30.5 cm. The record weight for the fish is 1.75 pounds. Rarely are limits set on the number of fish that can be harvested due to their large numbers and high reproductive capabilities. If a particular area is subject to overfishing or habitat destruction, managements plans should be put into effect to preserve the population.


The redbreasted sunfish tends to be more of a cool-river species, but also inhabits freshwater lakes and streams. The species has been introduced as far west as Louisiana and West Texas. Native range of the sunfish is a relatively large area with the species new introduction points not straying far from its native habitats.


Redbreast sunfish mainly consume immature aquatic insects. Mayflies, small fish, and dragonfly larvae consist of the majority of the sunfish’s diet based on stomach content. Being an opportunistic feeder, the fish competes with other sunfish and larger predatory fish that prey on the same food they do. Larger piscivorous fish are the main predators of smaller redbreast sunfish. Micropterus species are a major threat to sunfish because of the shared habitat and the large availability of the sunfish. The sunfish prefers structure around banks and overhanging branches that provide shade to provide food and protection. Lepomis auritus survives best in water with current and a pH between 7.0 and 7.5. Lack of current or too acidic or basic water can dramatically affect the sunfish’s survival rate. Human influence on abiotic and biotic factors such as sunlight and predator numbers can have a major influence on sunfish. Factors such as clearing debris bank cover can increase amount of sunlight into the water and increase water temperature and decrease defense habitats, also decreasing the number of predators by eating larger predatory fish will increase the survival rate of the redbreast sunfish.

Life history

The redbreast sunfish is a fall spawner on sand-gravel substrate depending on location, or when water temperature reaches 16-26 °C. According to Stanley Sharp, “The mature male generally builds a nest in shallow water or may simply use the abandoned nest of another Centrarchid. The female eventually enters the nest, releases her adhesive eggs, and then leaves. The male remains to guard and fan the eggs and possibly even to guard the young for a brief period. The male and female will then move out of the shallow water after spawning and into deeper water. A male sunfish will breed with more than one female, just as female sunfish will breed with more than one male. Average clutch size for the sunfish is around 2000 depending on the age of the female. Mature ova are around 1.1 mm in diameter. Reproductive maturity is reached the second year of life. They have been known to have a maximum lifespan of around seven years for primarily males. Currently, humans do not play a large role in influencing life history due to large populations and secluded areas.


Currently, the redbreast sunfish is not on the federal or state endangered or threatened species list. The species is thriving in its natural habitat.


  • FishBase: Lepomis auritus
  • ITIS: Lepomis auritus
  • Ellis, Jack (1993). The Sunfishes-A Fly Fishing Journey of Discovery. Bennington, VT: Abenaki Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-936644-17-6. 
  • Rice, F. Philip (1964). America's Favorite Fishing-A Complete Guide to Angling for Panfish. New York: Harper Row. 
  • Rice, F. Philip (1984). Panfishing. New York: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-943822-25-4. 
  • Malo, John (1981). Fly-Fishing for Panfish. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Dillon Press Inc. ISBN 0-87518-208-9. 
  • Cooke, Steven, and David P. Philipp. Centrarchid Fishes: Diversity, Biology, and Conservation. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Print.
  • Dewoody, Andrew, Dean Fletcher, and David Wilkins. "Molecular Genetic Dissection of Spawning, Parentage, and Reproductive Tactics in a Population of Redbreast Sunfish, Lepomis Auritus." Evolution 52.6 (1998): 1802-810. Print.
  • Nadig, Susan G. Evaluating Potential Alteration of Genetic Diversity in Populations of Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis Auritus) Using RAPD ASSAY. Thesis. The University of Tennessee Knoxville, 1996. Print.
  • Sharp, Stanley K. Serum Levels of 17B-Estradiol and Testosterone as Indicators of Environmental Stress in Redbreast Sunfish, Lepomis Auritus. Thesis. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1994. Print.
  • Shepard, Kenneth L. Use of Standard Metabolic Rate as an Indicator of Environmental Stress in Redbreast Sunfish, Lepomis Auritus. Thesis. The University of Tennessee Knoxville, 1988. Print.


Redear Sunfish 2


Redear Sunfish | Lepomis microlophus



Redear Sunfish info via Wikipedia:

Redear sunfish
Temporal range: Middle Miocene to Recent
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Centrarchidae
Genus: Lepomis
Species: L. microlophus
Binomial name
Lepomis microlophus
(Günther, 1859)

The redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus, also known as the shellcracker, Georgia bream, cherry gill, chinquapin, improved bream, rouge ear sunfish and sun perch) is a freshwater fish native to the southeastern United States. Since it is a popular sport fish, it has been introduced to bodies of water all over North America. It is known for its diet of mollusks and snails.

Large shellcracker before preparation for consumption


Illustration of the redear sunfish, Lepomis microlophus

The redear sunfish generally resembles the bluegill except for coloration and somewhat larger size. The redear sunfish also has faint vertical bars traveling downwards from its dorsal.[2] It is dark-colored dorsally and yellow-green ventrally. The male has a cherry-red edge on its operculum; females have orange coloration in this area. The adult fish are between 20 and 24 cm (7.9 and 9.4 in) in length. Max length is 43.2 cm (17.0 in), compared to a maximum of about 40 cm (16 in) for the bluegill. Lepomis microlophus averages at a size of about 0.45 kg (0.99 lb), also larger than the average bluegill.

Habitat and range

Redear sunfish are native to North Carolina and Florida, west to south Illinois and south Missouri, and south to the Rio Grande drainage in Texas.[3] However, this fish has also been widely introduced to other locations in the United States outside of its native range. In the wild, the redear sunfish inhabits warm, quiet waters of lakes, ponds, streams, and reservoirs. They prefer to be near logs and vegetation, and tend to congregate in groups around these features. This sunfish is also located in many marsh wetlands of freshwater.


The favorite food of this species is snails. These fish meander along lakebeds, seeking and cracking open snails and other shelled creatures. Redears have thick pharyngeal teeth (hard, movable plates in its throat) which allow it to crunch exoskeletons. It is even capable of opening small clams. The specialization of this species for the deep-water, mollusk-feeding niche allows it to be introduced to lakes without the risk of competition with fish that prefer shallower water or surface-feeding. In recent years, the stocking of redear has found new allies due to the fish's ability to eat quagga mussels, a prominent invasive species in many freshwater drainages.[4]


Male guarding eggs

During spawning, males congregate and create nests close together in colonies, and females visit to lay eggs. The redear sometimes hybridizes with other sunfish species.

Fossil record

The redear sunfish is the first-known species of Centrarchidae based on fossil records, as old as 16.3 million years, dating back to the Middle Miocene[1].


  1. ^ NatureServe (2015). "Lepomis microlophus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 4.1 (4.1). International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved February 25, 2016. 
  2. ^ Bosanko, David, and Dan Johnson. "Redear Sunfish." Fish of Michigan Field Guide. Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, 2007. 148-49. Print.
  3. ^ Gilbert, Carter Rowell, and James D. Williams. "Redear Sunfish." National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes: North America. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. 347. Print.
  4. ^ Tavares, Stephanie (2009-11-09). "Popular sport fish could solve Lake Mead's clam infestation". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  • Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Lepomis microlophus" in FishBase. November 2005 version.
  • Ellis, Jack (1993). The Sunfishes-A Fly Fishing Journey of Discovery. Bennington, VT: Abenaki Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-936644-17-6. 
  • Rice, F. Philip (1964). America's Favorite Fishing-A Complete Guide to Angling for Panfish. New York: Harper Row. 
  • Rice, F. Philip (1984). Panfishing. New York: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-943822-25-4. 


Jack Crevalle – 1

Jack Crevalle | Caranx hippos


Jack Crevalle info via Wikipedia:

Crevalle jack
Jack crevalle - Oleta River State Park.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Carangidae
Genus: Caranx
Species: C. hippos
Binomial name
Caranx hippos
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Caranx hippos distribution.png
Approximate range of the crevalle jack
  • Scomber hippos Linnaeus, 1766
  • Carangus hippos (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Scomber carangus Bloch, 1793
  • Caranx carangus (Bloch, 1793)
  • Caranx carangua Lacepède, 1801
  • Caranx erythrurus Lacepède, 1801
  • Caranx antilliarum Bennett, 1840
  • Caranx defensor DeKay, 1842
  • Trachurus cordyla Gronow, 1854
  • Carangus esculentus Girard, 1859
  • Caranx esculentus (Girard, 1859)
  • Caranx hippos hippos (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Caranx hippos tropicus Nichols, 1920

The crevalle jack, Caranx hippos (also known as the common jack, black-tailed trevally, couvalli jack, black cavalli, jack crevale and yellow cavalli) is a common species of large marine fish classified within the jack family, Carangidae. The crevalle jack is distributed across the tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic Ocean, ranging from Nova Scotia, Canada to Uruguay in the west Atlantic and Portugal to Angola in the east Atlantic, including the Mediterranean Sea. It is distinguishable from similar species by its deep body, fin colouration and a host of more detailed anatomical features, including fin ray and lateral line scale counts. It is one of the largest fish in the genus Caranx, growing to a maximum known length of 124 cm and a weight of 32 kg, although is rare at lengths greater than 60 cm. The crevalle jack inhabits both inshore and offshore waters to depths of around 350 m, predominantly over reefs, bays, lagoons and occasionally estuaries. Young fish dispersed north by currents in the eastern Atlantic are known to migrate back to more tropical waters before the onset of winter; however, if the fish fail to migrate, mass mortalities occur as the temperature falls below the species' tolerance limits.

The crevalle jack is a powerful, predatory fish, with extensive studies showing the species consumes a variety of small fish, with invertebrates such as prawns, shrimps, crabs, molluscs and cephalopods also of minor importance. Dietary shifts with both age, location and season have been demonstrated, which led some researchers to postulate the species is indiscriminant in its feeding habits. The crevalle jack reaches maturity at 55 cm in males and 66 cm in females, with spawning taking place year round, although peaks in activity have been documented in several sites. The larval and juvenile growth has been extensively studied, with the oldest known individual 17 years of age. The crevalle jack is an important species to commercial fisheries throughout its range, with annual catches ranging between 1000 and 30 000 tonnes over its entire range. It is taken by a variety of netting methods, including purse nets, seines and gill nets, as well as hook-and-line methods. The crevalle jack is also a revered gamefish, taken both by lures and bait. The species is considered of good to poor quality table fare, and is sold fresh, frozen, or preserved, or as fishmeal or oil at market. The crevalle jack is closely related to both the Pacific crevalle jack and the longfin crevalle jack, the latter of which has been extensively confused with the true crevalle jack until recently.

Taxonomy and phylogeny

The crevalle jack is classified within the genus Caranx, one of a number of groups known as the jacks or trevallies. Caranx itself is part of the larger jack and horse mackerel family Carangidae, a group of percoid fishes in the order Perciformes.[1] The species belongs to what William Smith-Vaniz and Ken Carpenter refer to as the Caranx hippos complex, a group of closely related fishes which also includes Caranx caninus (Pacific crevalle jack) and Caranx fischeri (longfin crevalle jack).[2]

The crevalle jack was the first species of its genus to be scientifically described and named, and is also the type species of the genus Caranx. It was described and named in 1766 by the famed Swedish taxonomist Carl Linnaeus, based on the holotype specimen taken off the coast of the Carolinas, United States.[3] He named the species Scomber hippos, placing it in the mackerel genus Scomber, a practice which was common prior to 1801 when the carangids were not yet recognised as separate from the scombrids.[4] The specific epithet means "horse" in Latin, with Scomber hippos literally translating in English as "horse mackerel", which has become a common name for many species of carangid.[5] As the state of fish taxonomy progressed, the species was transferred to both Caranx and Carangus, with the name Caranx hippos now accepted. Bernard Germain de Lacépède was the first person to separate the crevalle jack from the mackerels, placing it in its own genus Caranx, although he had redescribed the fish as Caranx carangua, which became the type species of Caranx.[6] As well as Lacepede's renaming, the species has been independently redescribed a total of six times, with all of these names, including Lacepede's, categorised as invalid junior synonyms under ICZN rules.

There has been extensive discussion in the scientific literature regarding the possible conspecifity of the Pacific crevalle jack, Caranx caninus, with Caranx hippos.[2] Arguments ranged from the species being conspecific, subspecific or as individual species. This led to the creation of two trinomial names; Caranx hippos hippos and Caranx hippos tropicus. The former was an attempt to separate the 'subspecies' on each side of the Americas,[7] while the latter was an unnecessary name to divide the Atlantic Caranx hippos into subspecies.[8] The most recent review of the species complex by Smith-Vaniz and Carpenter treated the fish as separate species, citing differences in the development of hyperostosis and differing anal fin colours as evidence of species status.[2] The species' most often used common name, crevalle jack (or 'jack crevalle') is based on the word "cavalla", an earlier word used for the jacks. Other names include common jack, black-tailed trevally, couvalli jack, black cavalli, yellow cavalli and a host of generic names, such as horse mackerel and crevalle.[5]


Several crevalle jacks over a reef in Florida

The crevalle jack is one of the largest members of Caranx, growing to a known maximum length of 125 cm and a weight of 32 kg,[5] although it is generally uncommon at lengths greater than 65 cm.[9] Unverified reports of fish over 150 cm may also be attributable to this species.[10] The crevalle jack is morphologically similar to a number of other deep-bodied carangids, having an elongate, moderately compressed body with the dorsal profile more convex than the ventral profile, particularly anteriorly.[10] The eye is covered by a well-developed adipose eyelid, and the posterior extremity of the jaw is vertically under or past the posterior margin of the eye.[10] The dorsal fin is in two parts, the first consisting of eight spines and the second of one spine followed by 19 to 21 soft rays. The anal fin consists of two anteriorly detached spines followed by one spine and 16 or 17 soft rays.[9] The pelvic fins contain one spine and five soft rays, while the pectoral fins contain 20 or 21 soft rays. The caudal fin is strongly forked, and the pectoral fins are falcate, being longer than the length of the head.[11] The lateral line has a pronounced and moderately long anterior arch, with the curved section intersecting the straight section midway below the second dorsal fin. The straight section contains 23 to 35 very strong scutes, with bilateral keels present on the caudal peduncle. The chest is devoid of scales with the exception of a small patch of scales in front of the pelvic fins.[9] The upper jaw contains a series of strong outer canines with an inner band of smaller teeth, while the lower jaw contains a single row of teeth.[10] The species has 35 to 42 gill rakers in total and 25 vertebrae are present.[11]

In 1972, a crevalle jack caught by fishermen off South Carolina displayed swollen, bulbous mandibles. These swellings were initially thought to be due to a copepod parasite, however radiographs and subsequent sectioning found them to be bony in nature. The cause of this calcified connective tissue is still unknown, and there remains only a single reported case of such an ailment in crevalle jack.[12]

The crevalle jack's colour ranges from brassy green to blue or bluish-black dorsally, becoming silvery white or golden ventrally. A dark spot is present on the pectoral fin, with a similar dark to dusky spot present on the upper margin of the operculum. Juveniles have around five dark vertical bands on their sides, with these fading at adulthood.[13] The first dorsal fin, pectoral and pelvic fins range from white to dusky, occasionally with golden tinges throughout. The anal fin lobe is bright yellow, with the remainder of the fin ranging from golden to dusky, while the underside of the caudal peduncle often being yellow in adults. The caudal fin itself is also golden to dusky, with the lower lobe often brighter yellow than the upper, with both the lobes often having a black trailing edge.[11][13]


The crevalle jack inhabits the tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic Ocean, ranging extensively along both the eastern American coastline and the western African and European coastlines.[5] In the western Atlantic, the southernmost record comes from Uruguay, with the species ranging north along the Central American coastline, and throughout the Caribbean and many of the numerous archipelagos within. The species is found throughout the Greater Antilles, however it is absent from the leeward Lesser Antilles, with its distribution being patchy throughout other Caribbean archipelagos.[10] From the Gulf of Mexico, its distribution extends north along the U.S. coast and as far north as Nova Scotia in Canada, also taking in several northwest Atlantic islands. The crevalle jack is also known from Saint Helena Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean.[14]

In the eastern Atlantic, the southernmost record comes from Angola, with the species distributed north along the west African coastline up to West Sahara and Morocco, with its distribution also including much of the Mediterranean Sea.[5] In the Mediterranean, its range extends as far east as Libya in the south and Turkey in the north, and includes most of the northern Mediterranean, including Greece, Italy and Spain. The species' northernmost record in the eastern Atlantic comes from Portugal, with the species also known to inhabit many of the northeastern Atlantic islands, including Cape Verde, Madeira Island, and the Canary Islands.[9]

Many older publications list the species range as from the eastern Pacific, which now is known to represent the Pacific crevalle jack and is considered a distinct species. There are also often mentions of the species erroneously having circumtropical and Indian Ocean distributions, with these records probably attributable to similar Indo-Pacific species, namely the blacktip trevally and giant trevally.[2] The species distribution overlaps that of the similar longfin crevalle jack in the eastern Atlantic, with careful identification needed to distinguish the two.[2] Within the Atlantic, confusion with both longfin crevalle jack and horse-eye jack, Caranx latus, have also led to erroneous records being made, with Smith-Vaniz and Carpenter suggesting this occurred in the Mediterranean, and the species may actually be absent from waters north of Mauritania.[2]


Crevalle jacks swimming in the Georgia Aquarium

The crevalle jack lives in both inshore and offshore habitats, with larger adults preferring deeper waters than juveniles. In the inshore environment, crevalle jack inhabit shallow flats, sandy bays,[15]beaches, seagrass beds, shallow reef complexes[5] and lagoons. The species is also known to enter brackish waters, with some individuals known to penetrate far upstream; however, like most euryhaline species, they generally do not penetrate very far upriver.[16] The water salinities where the species has been reported from range from 0% to 49%, indicating the species can adapt to a wide range of waters.[17] Studies in West Africa found marked differences in the sex ratios of populations in brackish waters, with females very rarely seen in such environments once they are mature.[17] Research in the coastal waters of Ghana suggests the availability of food is the primary control on the species distribution in inshore waters.[18]

Adults that move offshore generally do not leave continental shelf waters, however still penetrate to depths of 350 m,[9] and possibly deeper. These individuals live on the outer shelf edges, sill reefs and upper slopes of the deep reef, and tend to be more solitary than juveniles.[19] Adults have also been sighted around the large oil rig platforms throughout the Gulf of Mexico, where they use the man-made structure like a reef to hunt prey.[20] The larvae and young juveniles of the species live pelagically offshore along the continental shelf and slope, and are also known to congregate around oil platforms, as well as natural floating debris such as sargassum mats.[21]

Biology and ecology

The crevalle jack is one of the most abundant large carangids in the Atlantic Ocean, with at least two systematic studies placing it within the top five most abundant species of that region, namely lagoons in Nigeria and Chiapas, Mexico.[22] Seasonal movements are known from both the American and African coastlines, with both juveniles and adults appearing to migrate. In North America, young individuals recruited to northern estuaries are known to move to warmer tropical waters at the onset of winter to escape possible hypothermia.[23] At least one hypothermia-driven mass mortality of 200 crevalle jacks has been reported from the Slocum River in Massachusetts, indicating low-temperature mortality is a major concern for north-ranging groups of the species, with temperatures below 9.0 °C apparently being lethal to the fish.[24] This applies not only to river dwelling fish, but also to marine migrants which linger too long in the temperate regions during winter.[24] In Nigeria, and presumably other parts of Africa, the species appears to migrate seasonally, possibly to take advantage of prey, with the fish arriving in Nigeria during September to November. The species is more active during the day than the night, with larger catches in fisheries taken during the day, also. The crevalle jack is a schooling species for most of its life, forming moderately large to very large, fast-moving schools.[11] At larger sizes, the fish become more solitary and move to the deeper offshore reefs. Evidence from laboratory studies indicates crevalle jack are able to coordinate their feeding and spawning aggregations over coral reefs based on the release of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) from the reef. DMSP is a naturally occurring chemical produced by marine algae and, to a lesser extent, corals and their symbiotic zooxanthellae. Field studies have also shown the species increases in abundance with increased levels of DMSP over coral reefs.[25]

Diet and feeding

The crevalle jack is a powerful predatory fish which predominantly takes other small fishes as prey at all stages of its life, with various invertebrates generally being of secondary importance to its diet.[10] Several studies conducted on the species' diet over its range have found other aspects of its diet vary widely, including the specific types of prey the species takes and the change in diet with age. The most detailed of these studies was conducted in the Southern USA, which showed the species diet comprised between 74% and 94% fish.[26] The remainder of the diet was various prawns, shrimps, crabs, molluscs and stomatopods. The types of fish taken varied throughout the range, with members of Clupeidae, Sparidae, Carangidae and Trichiuridae all taken in variable amounts, usually with members of one family dominating the local diet.[26] The percentage of various invertebrates also was highly variable, with penaeid shrimps, portunid crabs, stomatopods and squid being of importance to different populations. The study also indicated young crevalle jack predominantly take clupeids, adding sparids and later carangids to their diets as they grow larger.[26] The larger individuals also took much higher amounts of invertebrates, and also small quantities of seagrass, indicating larger fish are more opportunistic.[26] This general change in diet with age also seems spatially variable, with young crevalle jack in both Maryland and Puerto Rico consuming almost exclusively crustaceans, including shrimps, crabs (and juvenile tarpon) in Maryland[27] and harpacticoid copepods in Puerto Rico before moving to fish-dominated diets later in life.[19] Research in Ghana shows a pattern somewhat intermediate to the previous two locations; adults take larger fish, predominantly Engraulis guineensis and Sardinella eba, while juvenile fish take smaller fishes such as Epiplatys sexfasciatus or juvenile caridian and penaeid shrimps.[18]

The widely variable diet of the species throughout its life stages led authors in the 1950s and 1960s to conclude the species was indiscriminate in its feeding habits, eating whatever was locally available.[28][29] The diets of the populations in both the southern USA and Ghana also varied quite markedly by season and year, which led the authors of both these studies to agree with these earlier conclusions.[26] Recent laboratory studies, however, have shown the species may have preferences for certain sizes of prey. In these experiments, the fish were presented with a range of size classes of the same prey species, Menidia beryllina, with the results showing they prefer to take the smallest size class possible, which contrasts with more aggressive predators, such as bluefish.[30] Both adults and juveniles feed throughout the day, generally becoming inactive at night.[18] During some feeding periods recorded in Ghana, digestion in the species was so rapid that food becomes unidentifiable within four to five hours of consumption.[18] The crevalle jack is also an important prey species itself, taken by larger fish, such as billfish and sharks, as well as seabirds.[5] As well as being preyed on during its adult stage, the spawn of the crevalle jack is known to be eaten by planktivorous organisms, including whale sharks in the Caribbean.[31]

Life history

A school of crevalle jack swarming around a Caribbean reef shark

The crevalle jack reaches sexual maturity at different lengths in males and females, with estimates suggesting males reach maturity at 55 cm and four to five years of age, and females at 66 cm and five to six years of age.[19] Reproduction is thought to occur year-round in most areas, although there are peaks in activity. South of Florida, this period is between March and September,[32] in Cuba it is April and May,[5] while in Jamaica no definitive peak has yet been identified.[19] The species also has a protracted spawning in Ghana, although a peak in activity occurs between October and January. Juveniles are also present in lagoons year round in this location, indicating year round spawning and recruitment.[18] The place of spawning also appears to be variable, with the act occurring offshore south of Florida,[32] while in Colombia and Belize, they have been observed spawning over inshore reefs and bays.[33] Large aggregations of crevalle jack form prior to spawning, with these schools containing upward of 1000 individuals. Pairs break off from the school to spawn, with one individual turning a much darker color during this exchange. Once spawning has occurred, the pair rejoins the main school.[33]Fecundity in the species has been estimated as up to one million eggs, with these being pelagic, and spherical in shape. They have a diameter of 0.7 to 0.9 mm, and contain a pigmented yolk and one yellow oil globule with dark pigments.[19] The larvae have been extensively described in the scientific literature, although the sequence of fin formation is still not well known. Defining features of the larval crevalle jack include a relatively deep body, heavily pigmented head and body, and more detailed meristic characteristics, with flexion occurring at 4 to 5 mm in length.[32]

Otolith and vertebrae studies have proved useful in determining the age and thus growth patterns of the species, with other methods including scale and fin ray sectioning having lesser value.[34] The species otoliths have been the subject of detailed X-ray diffraction studies, which have indicated biomineralisation of the otoliths occurs predominantly in the aragonite phase.[35] Females grow faster than males, reaching 266.5 mm after their first year of life, 364.4 after their second, 370.9 mm after the third and 546.7 after their fifth. A female of 676.6 mm was 9 years old.[36] Males reach 252.4 mm in their first year, 336.2 mm in their second, 363.8 in the third and 510.3 in their fifth. A male of 554 mm was eight years old.[36] The oldest studied individual was a 934-mm individual of unspecified sex, which was 17 years old.[34] The larvae are pelagic and are found over continental shelf waters and occasionally in the oceanic zone proximal to the continental slope. They are present all year round in the Gulf of Mexico, with a peak in abundance during the summer months due to spawning peaks.[37] While the young juveniles live in the exposed pelagic environment, they use a behaviour called 'piloting' to swim in very close proximity to both larger animals and floating objects, such as sargassum mats, buoys and even boats.[38] By the time juveniles make their way to shore, they may have been dispersed large distances from their initial spawning grounds and may face the challenge of migration to warmer climates during winter if they are to survive as outlined previously.[23] Juveniles use estuaries and seagrass beds as their main nursery habitats.[38]

Relationship to humans

The crevalle jack is a highly important species to commercial fisheries throughout its range, with the greatest quantity of the species taken from the eastern Atlantic.[39] In some fisheries, it is one of the most abundant species and therefore of great importance in these regions. In the Americas, the reported annual catch has ranged between 150 and 1300 tonnes since 1950, with catches since 2000 ranging between 190 and 380 tonnes.[39] Most of the western Atlantic catch is from Florida,[2] although Caribbean fisheries, such as Trinidad, take considerable quantities of the fish.[36] The eastern Atlantic catch statistics do not differentiate longfin crevalle jack from crevalle jack, thus must be considered a composite dataset. This region only comprises catch data from Angola, Ghana, São Tome, and Principe. These catches are much larger than in the east, with hauls of between 1000 and 38 000 tonnes per year recorded since 1950, although catches since 2000 only range between 1900 and 10 200 tonnes.[39] Crevalle jack is taken by a number of fishing methods, including haul seines, gill nets, purse seines, trawls, handlines and trolling lines.[10] The abundance of the species in Trinidad leads to the fish being taken in several quite different types of fishery; demersal trawls, artisanal gill nets and even beach seines, which illustrates the species' importance. In Trinidad, recreational fishermen also may sell their catch, which adds to the overall quantity of fish sold.[40] Crevalle jack is sold at market fresh, frozen, salted, and smoked, and as fishmeal and oil.[9]

The crevalle jack is a popular and highly regarded gamefish throughout its range, with the recreational catch of the species often exceeding commercial catches. The only amateur catch data available are from the US, which has an annual catch of around 400 to 1000 tonnes per year.[2] In Trinidad, the species is the basis for several fishing tournaments.[36] Crevalle jack are targeted from boats, as well as from piers and rockwalls by land based anglers.[41] Fishermen often target regions where depth suddenly changes, such as channels, holes, reefs or ledges, with strong currents and eddies favourable.[42] The fish take both live and cut baits, as well as a variety of artificial lures; however, when the fish are in feeding mode, they rarely refuse anything they are offered. Popular baits include both live fish, such as mullet and menhaden, as well as dead or strip baits consisting of fish, squid or prawns. Crevalle jack readily accept any style of lure, including hard-bodied spoons, jigs, plugs and poppers, as well as flies and soft rubber lures.[42] There is some evidence based on long term observations that the species favours yellow lures over all others.[42] Tackle is often kept quite light, but heavy monofilament leaders are employed to prevent the fish's teeth from abrading the line.[42] Crevalle jack are generally considered quite poor table fare, with selection of younger fish and bleeding upon capture giving the best results. The flesh is very red and dark due to the red muscle of the fish, which makes it somewhat coarse and poor tasting.[9] When pulled from the water, this fish snorts in what many people describe as "a pig-like" fashion. The crevalle jack has been implicated in several cases of ciguatera poisoning, although appears less likely to be a carrier than the horse-eye jack.[43]


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  43. ^ Doorenbos, N.J.; Granade, H.R.; Cheng, P.C.; Morgan, J.M. (1977). "Ciguatera Fish Poison Studies in the Caribbean" (PDF). Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Technical Report. MASGP-77-023: 1–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-16. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 


Minckley’s Cichlid

Herichthys minckleyi

 Minckley’s Cichlid | Herichthys minckleyi







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