Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

December 29, 2012


On December 26, the US Coast Guard confiscated five miles of illegal gill net off of San Padre Island, Texas, USA. They were set at night by Mexican fishermen who crossed into US waters. The net killed 345 sharks and an untold number of other species. The fishermen were not caught or prosecuted. Their only loss was their time, fuel, and nets. The sharks paid the ultimate cost.

CLICK HERE for more information.

December 14, 2012

SCORE ONE FOR Menhaden!!!

Sorry for the long delay between posts. I've been so busy with work that this had to take the back seat for a spell. BUT, I've finished illustrating all (count 'em, ALL) of the ROckfishes, and having moved on to Sculpins I'm finding small windows of time to share news, resources, and personal insights... at least for now :)

Menhaden have been call "The most important fish in the sea." It might be an overstatement, but not for those living along or in the western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. They are small, very oily, schooling fishes that have played an important role ecologically and commercially for many many years. Innumerable sea birds, marine mammals, sharks, and other predatory fishes prey on Menhaden. Their flesh is packed with high-quality energy. 

In the past 30 years, purse seiners have scooped up so much Menhaden to process into fish oil products, pellets, and fertilizer that the Menhaden stocks have literally crashed. The large, dark clouds of Menhaden schools are no longer a common sight in the Chesapeake Bay. As a result, other fish stocks, such as Striped Bass, have also declined. The ensuing debate between the fish oil companies, environmentalists, scientists, fishermen, and government about how to manage the fish stocks has been mired in grid lock. Reducing catch limits puts the fish oil companies in jeopardy. But, allowing the catches to go on at current levels ALSO puts the oil companies at jeopardy. If they were allowed to take every fish, they'd put themselves, and a multitude of other companies out of business. Oh, and never mind the top predators who feed on Menhaden but don't get a vote in the process.

I realize this is a very simplified explanation, and the issue is more complex than this space allows... Bottom line: the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission today passed new regulations to cut catch of Menhaden by 20%. There are many caveats to this of course. But it is a move in the right direction and will hopefully allow Menhaden to repopulate. If they can rebound (and I think they can), businesses and marine life that depend on their presence might hopefully flourish again, too. 

CLICK HERE to read more.

August 26, 2012


Well, I'm back. Took a little time off to spend on Ocracoke Island(awesome!) and get my son off to college...
So much to report ~!
Until I find the time to elaborate, here's a really cool video of a Coelacanth (pronounced 'see LA canth').
Ancient ancient bony fish found in remote pockets off of eastern South Africa and Indonesia. It was believed to have gone extinct some 65 million years ago until a scientist found a specimen in a fish market in 1938! Lo and behold, living fishes were found sporadically since then.
This is the best recording I've seen so far. Healthy, robust.

July 23, 2012

Culling is not a Solution

As long humans swim in proximity of meat-eating sharks, they put themselves at risk. Period.
If we're willing to take the risk, we must also be willing to accept the possible outcome. It's not a cold or unfeeling point of view. It's simply the raw truth.

I think about this each and every time I step into the surf.

Below is a link to a compelling editorial against culling Great White Sharks off Australia in the wake of another shark 'attack'. The author makes many valid arguments in opposition of a cull, none of which are new. But he does make an interesting point I hadn't considered before: other sharks would most certainly die in the pursuit of one. Sound familiar?

CLICK HERE for article.

July 14, 2012

Illustrating Rockfishes

Rockfishes. Oh, Rockfishes...
Rockfishes are a diverse and highly successful group of fishes within the Family Scorpaenidae, or Scorpionfishes. There are currently 102 known species of Scorpaenids worldwide. They live primarily in temperate to cold seas in the northern and southern hemispheres. Most are demersal, meaning, they live close to the bottom. Most are spiny, some are venomous. They have a thing on the cheek that I can't begin to explain.

Some of you may know that I am in the midst of coauthoring and illustrating a new book to be published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Our expected publication date is 2015. It will be titled: A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes - from Alaska to California. It will follow the layout and design of the first book (see sidebar) and will serve as a companion. The overall goal is to illustrate and describe in field guide form all of the fishes to about 600 ft. from both coasts of the continental United States. It's a Guinness Book of World Records kind-of-thing... no body has ever done this before. I'll be the first - with a lot of help, or course. Duh. It is an enormous and sometimes daunting task. But having worked for over five years on the Atlantic and Gulf book, and having been rewarded by it's tremendous success, I'm up to the challenge. (Alternative: play golf every day? Uh... no.) And when the Pacific book is out in print, wow... on to what next one? Bahamas and Caribbean Sea?

Anyway, back to Rockfishes...

Two of the largest families I illustrated for the Atlantic and Gulf book were Gobies and Flounders. I toiled over Gobies for weeks. Flounders would have done me in if I hadn't planned ahead and designated Fridays and 'Flounder Friday'. I illustrated one flounder per week for six months, thus avoiding insanity and bodily harm (think: throw myself out the window!) When I finally got to the Flounder section, the paintings were done and I only had to write and design.

Illustrating Gobies and Flounders pales in comparison to illustrating Rockfishes. (Sorry, Ed!) Gobies are slender, small, and mostly scaleless. Flounders are mostly brown, frustrating, and aesthetically boring. Regardless, I gave all my best and all illustrations are spot-on. But in true confession -- I was glad to move on.

Rockfishes just freakin' rock. They're deep-bodied, tall-spined, and often psychedelic in color and pattern. Complex. Complicated. Tricky. Many species resemble an other. There are multiple variations within many species. They change color and pattern. And when they're dead, they look nothing like themselves alive. Illustrating and describing all of the Northeastern Pacific Rockfishes will take the better part of three to four months, depending upon how many color variants we elect to include. What's three or four months? On the grander scale: A drop in the bucket. When Rockfishes are done, I'll move quickly on to Greenlings and then... Sculpins.

Guess what? There are even more Sculpins than Rockfishes. But that's another story.

Below is a short and amateurish video I shot while completing my 14th Rockfish illustration. I shot it on a Friday after having been punch drunk on Rockfishes for five previous days. It's not the best quality, and the lighting is poor, but it should give you an idea of what I'll be doing through Thanksgiving. Cheers. And, enjoy!

July 12, 2012

Advantage: Shark

When I was Tarpon fishing, my guide went off about how evil sharks are. He'd seen a lot of gamefish taken by sharks while he or a client were reeling them in or about to boat them. My son sided with this view and agreed that sharks are to blame until I later explained the following:

"He put the fish in that situation. The fish has no escape. The fish is trapped at the end of the line. The shark is only taking advantage of the situation they created." With this different perspective, my son said, "Hmmm. I guess you're right." I know I'm right.

Now for the video below: Pretty dramatic. Cool slow-mo at the end. More than likely a Bull Shark. They like to hang out in marshes and estuaries. A powerful animal once again taking advantage of an opportunity. What do we expect? They're sharks!

July 9, 2012

Barber Lab Quartet

(Power outages due to multiple summer storms... between trying to beat the heat and stay ahead on my work, I've gotten a bit behind on the fun...)

This is great. A clever spin on evolution in the 'Coral Triangle' which has been found to be home to the largest diversity of fishes on Earth. Science set to music with a few funny inside jokes thrown in... Every researcher dreams of finding new species ~!

June 26, 2012

The Amazing Diversity of Fishes

Clearly anyone who visits this little sight has an interest in fishes, fishing, diving, etc. I think for some, interest becomes fascination which becomes amazement. Fishes are... amazing!

Here is a very nice little primer on the Diversity of Fishes. It's fairly long, and only scratches the surface of the topic, but well worth the time to watch. Skip forward to about 4:00....


The Grand Diversity of Fishes: Form, Function, and Evolution from HMNH on Vimeo.

June 20, 2012

Pond Scum Fly? You Betcha!

This cracks me up... Pond Scum Fly. Never heard of such a thing until this morning. I was actually joking when I chimed in on a Facebook post about fly fishing for Grass carp: "Tie a pond scum fly -- salad for a carp!" Turned out, someone had already invented a Pond Scum Fly. No joke....

Apparently it is fished like, well, scum! Let it drift. Twitch it like it's got a bug in it.

I have very little desire to catch a Grass carp on rod and reel. I caught some by net while relocating critters from a pond slated to be drained and filled. Grass carp are BIG, slimy, and stinky.
That said, should any of my carp-fishing readers want to try this... let us know the results!

CLICK HERE for full Pond Scum Fly post. Cheers!

June 9, 2012

Time to Kill

One of the reasons I keep rigged rods in my truck is:
This evening.
Going to formal supper.
An hour to kill.
Pond on the way.
I'm ready!
Pull over, catch 9-10 bass, have cocktails, cheese and crackers, watch Belmont Stakes, and enjoy supper all with bass slime on my hands.
Completely and absolutely normal.

Oh, I fished again on the way home:
Who wouldn't?

May 22, 2012

Teacher and Student

If you are a parent, you are a teacher. If you are a son or daughter, you are your parent's student. How we parents teach our children reflects upon us. But more importantly, how we teach our children will effect the world around them in the years to come, and long after they leave our nests.

When I first taught my boys to fish I emphasized respect, care, and stewardship above catching fish. To this day, they treat wildlife with deep reverence.

When I came across this video, I was ecstatic! Great to see another parent teaching the same important foundations. These two clearly had a great time together bonding over a stingray... But really? What a terrific role model this dad is -- and what a great role model his son will become. I hope it goes viral.

May 16, 2012


If this doesn't make you laugh... check your pulse ;)

May 7, 2012

It's An Octopus Eat Bird World

It's often been said that Octopi are among the most intelligent animals on Earth. Clearly, this picture shows how opportunistic they can be... I imagine the octopus creeping up from behind - quietly reaching a suction cup-loaded arm toward the leg of a seagull - grabbing the leg, and not letting go. This has probably happened over and over again, but this may be the first time it's been recorded. After all, seagulls and octopi live in close quarters. And the octopus is one smart dude.

CLICK HERE to read more!

April 23, 2012

Look Familiar?

Many years ago I was out fishing on Pamlico Sound with my sons. My older boy snagged the Bimini top with a big, 'ole, bait-covered hook. I nagged him to remove it, but true to form, he forgot, and there the hook stayed. Eventually, we all forgot about it...

Later in the trip, my husband joined us and we all went fishing. It was breezy and rough, and after we'd pulled the anchor I said, "Grab on, here we go!" My husband grabbed the Bimini top.

Well, you can probably guess what happened next. Yep, he hooked himself through his finger and was literally attached to the top. Panic ensued. Must have hurt like Hell!

I have a few rules on the boat: No hooks on deck, close the bait box, and ALWAYS put the knife and pliers back. So, fortunately, we had pliers.

We snipped one end of the hook and motored back to Ocracoke. From there we went to the clinic where my husband got a Tetanus shot and had the hook removed from his finger. The hook went into a very large and scary display of other hooks and paraphernalia that had come out of other fishermen. I didn't think to take a picture of the display, and wish I had! It looked very similar to the picture above. 

Sidebar: What the heck is up with the chainsaw chain??? :)

April 19, 2012

Inside Out

Came across a really neat photo album of Fish X-rays. These will be on exhibit at the Smithsonian, and will be traveling through 2015...

CLICK HERE for more information.

April 17, 2012

What Would God Think?

I can't say. But I know what I think...
This photo was posted on Facebook. Said to be taken at Kino Bay, Sinaloa, Mexico.
Wherever and whenever it was taken, it is sad, sad, sad. Disgraceful.

April 12, 2012


When I think of Bait-stealers, I think of Pinfish, Lizardfish, Blue crabs. Never Dolphins!
This guy was clever, delicate, and lucky! Instead of a free treat, he might have gotten hooked.

I wonder how much one of these underwater video cameras costs? Imagine the crazy things we'd discover.

April 7, 2012

Jose Wejebe - Fishing Ambassador

Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet Jose Wejebe. But I know many folks who did know him and through his programs I absorbed his many insights and reflections. I looked forward to episodes of 'Spanish Fly'. He was as genuinely freaky fish geeky as I am. If I thought otherwise, I'd have changed the channel.
Public figures put themselves, their lives, their family histories, their thoughts, philosophies, and feelings into the public. We get to know them and they become part of our lives - for better or worse. Jose was a part of many lives... for the better.

What WAS it about Jose that captured so many hearts? My answer: He was genuinely enthusiastic. He was genuinely in love. He adored fishing, and fishes, and friends and family. And he loved sharing his passion for living a life on, around, and below the water. He had tremendous respect for fishes and the environment. He was gentle, sincere, and patient. He became the model of what a fisherman should be: a steward, a spokesman, a conservationist... an ambassador.

The world has lost one of its best.
He will be missed, but his message will carry on.


April 3, 2012

New Species of Shark

This is cool, yet scary... A new species of shark has been identified as living off the east coast of the US. It is very similar to and easily confused with the Scalloped Hammerhead, Sphryna lewini. They differ in DNA and number of vertebrae, which makes initial identification challenging.
This is good news in that more information is available to correctly assess populations of these sharks. Bad news in that previous assessments of Scalloped Hammerhead were most likely inaccurate due to misidentifications. Even worse, Scalloped Hammerheads are probably more threatened than previously thought because their numbers were likely inflated.

(Side bar: The White Marlin and Roundscale Spearfish are almost identical as well, with ranges that overlap. Thus, population assessments of both are also difficult to determine.)

What I find fascinating about this is that these fishes are BIG. When one thinks about finding new species, one first thinks of small fishes in remote places. This is just the opposite.

CLICK HERE for article.

March 29, 2012

On The Drafting Table

When I begin my day at the drafting table, the first thing do is choose which illustration to complete. Then I do exhaustive research. I dig into my library, go online, and examine all the photographic, illustrative, and video reference at my disposal.

In the worst-case scenarios, I'll find only photos of dead or pickled specimens. In best-case scenarios I'll find photos of living specimens. If I'm really lucky, I'll find video! Videos provide a treasure trove of information. Instead of one static shot, there are thousands of frames to examine. Play, pause, play, pause, play pause. Bingo! Any questions I may have had about the fish are answered...

When this video was posted on YouTube, could the poster have imagined that it would become an important tool for an illustrator on the other side of the continent?

Got video of your fishes? Put 'em on YouTube! You never know who might think it's made their day :)

On the drafting table today: Rosylip Sculpin:

March 23, 2012


I've done this before, but never caught anything... Now that I know it can be done, I'll try it again!

March 21, 2012

Fishing Vicariously :)

Marion's trout on my flies :)

As previously confessed, I am a crappie fly fisherman. But, I love tying flies. Recently, I gave a friend a bunch of Cactus chenille bead-head nymphs. They're wicked easy to tie, and apparently, fish love 'em!

My friend has a pond stocked with Rainbows. She's just taken up fly fishing and told me she would cast my flies and send pictures if she caught any fish. She landed three out of four! (See above :) I'd say that's a nice field test!

Want to tie this little bug? CLICK HERE for directions. Cheers!

March 16, 2012


At first I didn't 'get it'. Then, when Jack after Jack after Jack stole the Tarpon bait... I got it.
Been there, done that! Though not with Jacks. But there's no difference.
Jacks, Pinfish, Lizardfish... they're all 'Bait Stealers'!

This is a long video.. 22 minutes. But what struck me about this and inspired me to post it here is the display of patience, perseverance, and tenacity of Captain Jeff. Then again, aren't all fishermen patient?

Aside: When he yells "Get outta here!!" I first thought he was yelling at other fishermen... he was yelling at the Jacks! HA!

March 14, 2012

Sharks in Coordinated Hunt

This is cool... (I say that a lot!) I've seen coordinated hunting in many species, but nothing this dramatic. At the end of the clip, you can clearly see the bait ball that three or four sharks repeatedly corral, then slice through. Amazing.

March 6, 2012

Holy F'in Carp (Crap) !!!

Hoo Boy! Every once in a while something makes me laugh so hard I can't breathe! Holy crap this is funny. Think of the amount of time and planning that went into this little adventure! The props, the editing, and music sound-over... A bunch of guys doing guy stuff. (PETA would h-a-t-e this!)
Footnote: Asian carp are an invasive species, so here in the States, there is no love lost. Thus the nails, spikes, sabers, tennis rackets, and pitch-forks...

- Watch More Funny Videos

March 5, 2012

Confessions of a Crappy Flyfisherman

I love fish. LOVE fish. And I love fishing. LOVE fishing. My enthusiasm for fishing usually exceeds my ability unless I'm with a guide. By myself? Sometimes the fishing plan works out, and sometimes it doesn't.

I'm a wicked-good bait fisherman, and pretty-good lure fisherman. First pick? Squid bait. Second? Jig. Fall-back position? Throw the net. Why? I just want to experience the fish.

But when it comes to flyfishing, I stink. I'm a crappy flyfisherman. Can't cast. I squirrel up the leader and tippet, and I've lost a ton of flies on my backcast. Can't cast on tight streams -- and on wide open spaces, can't throw far enough. Wind? Forget about it.

However, I'm good at tying flies, and I love giving them away. I'm strangely drawn toward saltwater flies. (Did I just say 'strangely'? I meant, 'obviously'). I like the idea of my flies catching a fish I probably couldn't. Fishing vicariously is better than not fishing at all.

Above are some of my latest attempts which are ear-marked for a friend in Texas. Hope he catches a nice one ;)

If you'd like to see more EP-fiber fly patterns, a good site is Enrico Puglisi... CLICK HERE. Tons of natural imitations to copy. All probably tested and successful. And yet, I can't help thinking what Duffy used to say about flies: "If it ain't chartreuse, it ain't no use." Hmmm...

February 28, 2012

Potential Shark Repellant?

Hmmm... A Vancouver fisherman has invented a sound-producing device that mimics a pod of Orca Whales. He uses it to repel seals and prevent them from eating the salmon he catches. My first thought? I wonder if this new invention would work as a shark repellant??

Orcas are primarily bony-fish eaters, but have been known to prey on Great Whites and other top predators as well - see above. If this contraption would repel sharks, folks and sharks would be lot safer.

Need to look into this further...!

Click Here for article :)

February 20, 2012


One Scad is beautiful. A school of Scad is gorgeous.
Tarpon and Bar Jack slicing a school of Scad is Heavenly.

February 17, 2012

One in Winter

If this doesn't make you want to go fishing, nothing will.

One in Winter from ryan peterson on Vimeo.

February 13, 2012

Glowing Sushi? Noooooooo!

This is so wrong, on so many levels.
Pet store fish injected with bioluminescence from jellyfish, frozen, smashed into paste, and served as sushi under a black light? For a party? Gross!
The narrator isn't a scientist, he's an outreach coordinator, but he's "really excited about these fish... it's one way to get adults and children interested in science." I'd say that's a very far-fetched rationale.
Who in their right mind would tell their kids, "OK, kids... It's time to go to the pet store to get fish for sushi!"
Why not also tell them, "OK kids, it's time to go to the pet store to get hamsters for hamburgers!"
There's no difference. And neither is scientific.

February 10, 2012

Paula Predicts...

This is just goofy: An octopus named Paula predicted the Super Bowl.
What's even goofier? That this was newsworthy.
Goofier still? The fellow at the end of the clip disagreed with the octopus!
HA! What a hoot.

February 3, 2012

Killing the Clue isn't a Cure

Fishermen know that seabirds follow fish. Looking for fish? Look for birds. When the fish move on, so do the seabirds.

That cormorants have moved inland to feed is a clue to a larger problem: fewer fish at sea. Will killing the cormorants bring back the fish? Unlikely.

Click here for article.

January 30, 2012

Saltwater Fly Retrieves - with Angelo Peluso

One of the perks of my business is that I get to meet and work with the most interesting and accomplished folks in the industry. And, through these varied relationships I also get to grow professionally and personally. Each collaboration takes me and my associates down some challenging, fascinating, and very rewarding roads.

Angelo Peluso is a highly regarded fisherman and expert fly-tier. He's also a successful author, contributor, and talented photographer. His books include Tia, The Story of a Mouse and an Eagle, Flyfishing Long Island, and most recently, Saltwater Flies of the Northeast. He and I will collaborate on his next flyfishing book in the coming months.

While my enthusiasm for fishing far exceeds my ability, Angelo's ability has been honed and perfected through years of experience. He recently posted the below video. Simple, clear, and concise instruction. The fly he's using is one of his variations (of which there are many) of a large Lefty's Deceiver. He said he's had some really good luck with it on larger bass both on Long Island and in New England.

If you'd like to visit Angelo's site, Click Here. If you'd like to check out his books, check out the link below.

PS: I suspect his handwriting is a bit like mine (see below)... but I'll let you know :)

January 29, 2012

Kayak Fishing

(Cory reading A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes during a lull in the fishing :)

Disclosure: I may be a talented artist, but my handwriting makes me look like a serial killer. It's illegible. Horrible. Scribble. It's jerky, heavy, loopy and sloppy. You'd never know by looking at my writing that I can paint accurately, precisely, and beautifully. So when I'm at book signings, I pray that I'm not asked to write anything more than my name on the title page of my book. Because even penning my own name leaves me panicked.

Last summer my cousin asked me to personalize his copy. Before I did, I warned him my handwriting was awful. Not surprisingly, when I handed him the signed book, he read my inscription, laughed, and said, "Stick to painting, 'cuz!"
About four months ago. I'd just wrapped up a presentation and book signing which my wonderful niece had attended. Afterward, I lamented how bad my handwriting was, and how embarrassed I was by it. Bless her heart, Georgia told me, "Don't worry about it. All authors have horrible handwriting."


I don't remember how I became Facebook friends with Cory Routh. Doesn't matter. He's a fishing fanatic, as am I. He's also an environmental specialist, conservationist, hunter, writer, and photographer. Recently, he published Kayak Fishing: The Complete Guide. Great book! Expertly written, chocked full of images, and designed for both the novice and experienced kayak fisherman. Cory is a pro who's passion for kayak angling and the outdoors shines through. His book covers everything from rigging and gear to launching and safety. It is particularly helpful for the beginner, but it would also make a great addition to any angler's library.

Anyway, he suggested we swap books. I said, Sure! But, this meant I had to personalize my book for him. Oh no...not handwriting! But I did my best and sent off my book to him. A few days later, his book arrived at my office. And like I'd inscribed my title page for him, he'd inscribed his title page for me. And ya know what??? His handwriting was as scribbly as mine!

Georgia was right.
And...turns out, I'm in good company.

Click here for Cory's website.
Click on link below to check out Cory's book. Have fun, and Go Fish!

January 26, 2012

Sharks on the Wall

Odd post title, but couldn't think of a better one...!

When Steve Lewers approached me to collaborate with him on a series of note cards, folding guides, and posters, my initial reaction was "OK, we'll see." I don't enter into any business relationship without first doing some research. This was no exception. I wanted to check him out, talk on the phone, and hear from some of his other artists. One artist told me, "Steve is great. A machine. Completely trustworthy." I also wanted to make sure he produces quality products. I've spent my career building a reputation centered on integrity and high quality. Steve's reputation and work passed all my litmus tests. So, I signed on and several months later, we have rolled out a dozen different products. The shark poster, to me, is a highlight.

My readers undoubtedly know I have a thing for sharks. And anything I can do to help preserve them is time well spent. I think this poster accomplishes this if only to help people appreciate their beauty and diversity. I foresee donating several to charity.

Click here for the link!

January 22, 2012

Photo Worth a 1000 Words.

This photo doesn't need an editorial... it speaks for itself.

January 20, 2012

Tarpon Tournament

I'd no sooner want to be fishing among these throngs than I'd want to be crammed into a crowded subway. To me, this isn't fishing. This is competing - and the biggest losers are the Tarpon.

January 18, 2012

Don't Touch! Or, if you are a Goatfish... Don't Sleep!

I have a HUGE library in my office. The majority of books are about fishes - but I have a sizable collection of books about many other of aquatic life forms. One of the creepiest, and more informative books I own is Dangerous Marine Animals, by Bruce Halstead, M.D. When my kids were little, I actually hid this book from them because it contains numerous, graphic photos of the injuries people have suffered due to misencounters with venomous and toxic marine animals.
The book includes the well-documented outcomes of encounters with sharks, barracudas, jellyfishes... but it also includes the not-so-well-known dangerous critters like corals, sea urchins, and sea snails. Yep, sea snails.

Cone snails are one of the most venomous gastropods in the sea. A puncture wound from a Cone snail may result in intense pain, numbness, tingling in the mouth, dizziness, and paralysis. On our coast, these snails are mildly toxic, in other parts of the world fatalities have been reported.... from a SNAIL sting! Invertebrates and fishes in the wild don't stand a chance against the Cone snail. Some Cones have lightning-fast barbs that shoot out and harpoon their prey. Other Cones use stealth to approach their prey.

In the video below, the Goatfish is at rest. While the narrator says the Cone is releasing chemicals, I haven't read anything to corroborate this. But clearly, the Goatfish does not respond by swimming away.

Bottom line: it's a snail-eat-fish world under the surface. My rule of thumb? When you're in the ocean, DON'T TOUCH! Especially if it's a Cone snail.

January 15, 2012

Fishy Friday - Smalltooth Sawfish

Sawfish ancestors first appeared in the fossil record some 100 million years ago. That's a L-O-N-G time ago! They are more closely related to skates and rays than to sharks - their pectoral fins are connected to the head, whereas sharks and their relatives have distinctly separate pectoral fins that are low on the body.

The 'teeth' in a Sawfish's rostrum, are not teeth at all. They are actually modified scales. Their real teeth are tiny, numerous, and arranged in bands along the jaws. The rostrum is a very long, flattened, cartilagenous snout. The skin on the underside of the rosturm has hundreds, if not thousands, of sensory pores that help the Sawfish locate prey in bottom sediment.

Once prey is detected, the Sawfish digs around in the bottom with its long, toothy rostrum. The Sawfish then dines on wounded fishes and invertebrates. The Sawfish also uses its rostrum to slice through schools of baitfish.

Unfortunately for the sawfish, its saw is its greatest asset and its own worst enemy. Fishermen hunted this fish for its curious snout. In addition, the saw gets tangled in nets, lines and rigging. Frustrated fishermen would kill the Sawfish in an effort to save gear. On top of these challenges, Sawfishes have to share their shallow-water habitat with millions of water-going humans. The Smalltooth Sawfish once ranged from New Jersey to Brazil. Now, populations are restricted to small pockets. They are now considered Endangered and have total protection in the state of Florida.

Most folks will never see a live Sawfish in the wild. I know I probably won't. The fishermen in the video below were obviously aware of the Sawfish's status, and had the foresight to contact Fish and Wildlife scientists. While it's sad to see such a rare fish dead, at least its body will help further conservation efforts.

For more on Sawfish, CLICK HERE, and... HERE!

January 11, 2012

Open Letter to my Sons

By way of explanation, we have a cat named Pluto who has been with us for over 17 years. We adopted him from our local SPCA. Family stories about Pluto's escapades are too numerous to recount. In the simplest terms, he is a part of our colorful family fabric.

Recently, he's begun to decline. Blindness has set in on top of recurring ear issues. Antibiotics help his ears, but only to stave off dizziness. He's almost completely deaf. His remaining senses are smell, and touch. If he walks straight, he walks straight into. If he walks abreast, his whiskers signal him to turn. Corners trap him completely -- so when he gives up, he sits and stares into nowhere.

As we approach the end of our relationship with him in this life, I want to keep my sons abreast of developments. They have known, loved, and helped me care for Pluto since he came into our lives. But they are both away at school, and I am in my office with Pluto as my charge. And, this cat has been my ever-present companion. For many many years, he made homes in the cubby holes among my shelves of artwork. He chased the shadows of birds feeding at my windows. He meowed to get into my attic, and I waited for his meows to get out... But I digress...

Open letter to my sons:
Pluto is doing really well, considering.
After much thought, I've realized much of my fear was not about how he is - he seems OK. He's not sick sick, and besides weak kidneys, he's just disabled! I was afraid I couldn't take care of him. But, how would I know if I didn't try???? It's going to take some effort, but that's part of the deal when you adopt a pet. You're in it for the long haul...

So, after a couple of weeks of his blindness and deafness, we seem to be figuring it out. He gives signals, I read the signals and try to give him what he's asking for. Loud MMMOOOOW! may mean he wants to go out, or he's just lost. After he eats, he sometimes likes to have some water. So, if he can't find the bowl, I take him there and put his paws on the rim. He realizes he's at the bowl, and either tests it with his paw, or begins to drink. Fascinating.

He had challenging potty visits to the mulch beds today. RAIN! He did not like that. And I did not like the cold. But, whatever...

This afternoon I went to visit Tory and Bill, and left Pluto asleep on the couch. I'd checked all the doors, including the cat door. When I got back, I couldn't find him!! Freak out! I turned on all the lights and searched every crevice. He was No Where. I thought, 'No way he's in my office.' But, lo and behold, there he was, curled up and asleep on my floor. How the HECK did he find his way up there??? Who knows. He seemed happy.

Then later, he went down the stairs on his own (!), but after bumping his way around the fish room he decided he'd had enough and started to meow. I rescued him; took him outside; he did his business; then found his way to the dog bed and licked himself in front of the fire.

I've ordered Dad NOT to leave Pluto outside by himself. Fingers crossed.
See attached pic of Pluto in my office.
Love you guys. Be good!

Goldfish Salvation

I hope each of my dear readers gets to watch this... It is absolutely incredible. And proof that art takes all forms, but artists all share one trait: passion.


January 10, 2012

Dolphins Go Fishing

All trapped up and no place to go!
This is the aquatic equivalent of wolves hunting caribou -- they weed out the weak, the sick, the slow, thus leaving the strong (and their genes) to breed. It's a good thing :)

January 4, 2012

Mimic Mimics Mimic

The Mimic Octopus is well known for its spot-on imitations of numerous tropical fishes. Who would have guessed that a fish would join in its party?

Jawfishes are tiny, burrow-dwelling mouth-brooders that do not typically stray far from home. This is the first record of a fish mimicking a cephalopod. Dr. Rocha's hypothesis is that by mimicking the octopus, the small and vulnerable jawfish can venture to new places.

Interesting. My questions are: did this relationship happen by chance, or over eons of evolution?

If you'd like to read more... Click here!