Tuesday, April 25, 2006

another fish tale

There were no muskies in the nets today. Maybe it was due to the fact that several of the nets had actually rolled over in strong winds, and did not fish properly, a couple of them had holes where snapping turtles or muskrats had chewed their way through, or maybe it was due to the seasonably cold weather after a week of above average temperatures.

I did get to dip out many bowfin (Amia calva) and freshwater drum (Aplodinotes grunniens), which I have written about earlier (last July or August maybe; I'm too lazy to check the archives myself) as they have the ability to make grunting noises. I also saw at least one twelve inch crappie and many others I would choose to fillet if I were fishing for fun. And lots of northern pike.

One pike in particular struck me and J and N, my coworkers, as looking rather odd. It was 25 inches in length, but very skinny, like a snake. Other northern pike that size appeared very fat and healthy, so it was not a food chain deficiency. As J was measuring it, he noticed it held its mouth open slightly. A closer look at the mouth revealed something I have never seen before. The entire bottom of the mouth was covered with a growth of some sort, like really grainy flesh. Like the top of a cauliflower, almost. He took a pocket knife and cut off what he could, saving it for possible examination by the state fish pathologist. We were able to release the fish after this surgery, and hopefully it was able to eat for the first time in months.

On a somewhat related note, I answered a call yesterday at the office from someone who was concerned about a gelatinous, slimy growth on the wheels of his roll-in dock and on some other objects that had been submerged through winter. The culprit? Bryozoans, a colonial animal somewhat like sponges but deserving, nonetheless, a phylum of their own. That is one of the critters the prof breezes over in Invertebrate Zoology class, preferring the much more glamorous corals and anemones (What phylum are they in? Damn, I forgot!) but it is amazing, the web of life that exists around here.


clairesgarden said...

this all sounds so interesting! some photographs would complete the picture but I agree with you that on the water the camera is best left safely at home, perhaps you could persuade your office that a good waterproof digital would be invaluable for clasification and identification of your fish and 'things'? then suggesat they pay for your internet connection too?

Pam in Tucson said...

Quite honestly, I've never had any interest in fish - that is until I started reading your blog. But I find your posts about your work quite fascinating. I hope the skinny pike eats and fattens up, now that you've helped it.

April said...

I really enjoy your blog. I stumbled upon it looking for something that I now know is a bryozoan! My friends and I stumbled on the weird balloon-like masses while canoeing the St. Croix.