Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

December 8, 2017

The vanishing Vaquita

The Vaquita is a small porpoise endemic to the Gulf of California. It coexists with the Totoaba, a fish targeted for their valuable swim bladders that are thought to be highly medicinal in China and trade for thousands of dollars on the Black Market. Under pressure from conservation groups and the US government, the Mexican government has placed tight restrictions on fishing in northern GOC, but they are difficult to enforce, and the local people struggle to survive and may continue to succumb to the draw of Black Market profits. And so, the Vaquita continues to decline. It's population is not estimated at 30... a number that may not allow for recovery.

It's a sad, but true story of greed, abuse, and short sightedness. The current US administration has demonstrated a blind eye to important environmental issues, and have relaxed protections put in place by previous administrations. That is not to say we no longer have a voice and with enough support and pressure, can help turn the tide before this animal vanishes on our watch.

What can we do to help?
Support The Center for Biological Diversity CLICK HERE
Support the World Wildlife Fund CLICK HERE
Visit the Marine Mammal Commission for more information CLICK HERE

Watch this:

November 10, 2017

Fishy Friday! Evolution of Cichlids

Cichlids are one of the most successful and diverse family of fishes (eclipsed only by Gobies and Cyprinids) with roughly 112 genera, and at least 1,350 species. In Africa, there are at least 900 species alone, with concentrations in the three African lakes that contain more species of fishes than any other lake in the world! Their diversity is mind-blowing.

Some are mouth-brooders, others lay eggs and defend nests, and others combine both methods of reproduction. While primarily a freshwater fish of the tropics, some live in brackish waters.

Because they are small, easy to capture, observe, and test, they have been the subject of much research.

Here now, a superb presentation given by Axel Myer:

September 20, 2017

of Doughballs and YouTube buttons

I've recycled and experimented with all kinds of left-over food as bait: bread, ham, bacon, shrimp, turkey.... "Whatever that guy over there just wasted, may I have it for bait?" Yes, I've actually asked servers to give me left overs so I can go fishing.

Sand fleas? They do NOT need to be fresh to be effective. We've microwaved them and frozen them. Yep, they still catch fish.

Doughballs catch just about any small-mouthed fish I've come across: bass, brim, suckers, shiners, trout, and yes... grunts, snappers, chubs etc. "What are you using?" "Left-over doughballs from my airport sandwich." "No kidding?" "No kidding." Doughballs are even better with a little mayonnaise :)

However, I've never experimented with hardware. Honestly, it never occurred to me. Until now.

This is inspired... and very funny~!

September 14, 2017

OMG! Science Geeks Rock!

This made me laugh so hard, tears ran down my face. Totally relate. I still regularly put my patient and nature-loving sons through a "fact check" in the most embarrassing places: grocery store, gift 
"Ahi Tuna is a fake name. It doesn't exist, boys. And don't get me started on the bycatch or Salmon." 
"Mom, we know. Can we just order?"
Love this!

September 11, 2017

September 10, 2017

Storm Surge - Part 2

A friend of mine described this phenomenon on Currituck Sound after a hurricane blew through the Outer Banks of North Carolina. His description was eerie. This video makes hurricane force clear.

Here is the original Facebook post:

Long Island, Bahamas ! There is no more ocean ! As far as the eye can see . And they don't know where it went ! Wow .... Irma is more powerful than people think ! Be safe guys . 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼 P.S. This is not me filming ..... Update: Long Island has the all clear .. The sea is gradually coming back! Praise God....

Meanwhile, in the Florida Keys:

September 8, 2017


Flashback: Ocracoke Island, August 16. A low pressure system had been hanging off the coast for a few days. The ocean was BOILING. It sounded like a freight train. We headed for the beach anyway, anxious to get in and recoup a lost year away from it!

When we pulled up, I took one look and said, "Um. Nope! This is not good. I don't like the look of this. Not a good idea to get in that water."
Storm surge, Ocracoke 2017
My son, Dave, ignored my pleas, threw on some sun block, grabbed his surf board and headed into the water.

I implored: "Dave, this makes me very nervous! Please don't go in!"

He was undeterred: "Mom, it's fine."

The fear reduced me to tears.

He fought his way through the surf, was justly pummeled, and returned about 10 minutes later.

"You were right, Mom. It's too big."

"Number one, I'm always right. Number two, you made me cry!"

Soon after, the Park rangers stopped by each car to tell everyone to stay out of the water. Unbeknownst to us and just up the beach, a man had drowned the previous day in the rip current while attempting to save another man caught in it.

Jump ahead to today: Hurricane Irma has already flattened parts of the Caribbean and now threatens the Florida Keys and South Florida. NOAA is predicting up to 9-foot storm surge in parts of South Florida. This storm surge dwarfs the surge above. According to NOAA Hurricane Center (CLICK HERE for link) and the map below, 9-foot storm surge inundates a huge portion of oceanfront.
South Florida with potential 1- to 9-foot storm surge

While I sit high and dry in the Fish Cave––many miles from the ocean, reading posts on Facebook from friends who plan to ride out the hurricane––I'm reminded of ocean's power and destruction. It's real. It's unfeeling. It can knock down buildings, wash out bridges, rip up trees, toss boats and trucks, wash over islands, and drown people and animals in it's path.

Absolutely Love the ocean! But also fear and respect the ocean... and if possible, get the hell out of the way.

September 7, 2017

August 5, 2017

Fish Geeks: a Primer

There's a thing about Fish Geeks: only Fish Geeks really "get" other Fish Geeks. We are a large and diverse tribe of obsessive, compulsive, and driven students, professors, researchers, divers, snorkelers, fishermen, and... artists :)

Our closets are stuffed with T-shirts, Hawaiian shirts, baseball caps, and shorts emblazoned and embroidered with fishes on them. Bumper stickers, drink coasters, keys fobs? Only fish related. Tattoos? Fishes.

Our homes are decorated with fish mounts, fishing memorabilia, fish-related awards, fishing and diving photos, and other fishy decor. If the Geek has it real bad, even his mailbox is in the shape of a fish.

We read and write and blog about fishes. We photograph, film, and illustrate fishes. We attend meetings about fishes. Our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds are fully of fishy news. Who bothers with the New York Times when we've got the Underwater Times?!

We all know the words to the songs "Fish Heads" and the zippy, rappy "Rockfish Barotrauma." We've all seen video "Fish Guys - 48 hour Challenge"––multiple times!

And who can forget the super cute and classic "Barber Lab Quartet - Coral Triangle"?

And we even cover classic songs with lyrics about fishes!

I think I've made my point.
Want to join the club? New members are always welcome! But be forewarned––it's a life-long addiction. And, there are no Fish Addiction Treatment Centers... yet. ;)

July 27, 2017

The Zebra Effect

Mimicry is one of the coolest adaptations in Nature. Stripes in the grass confuse. Stripes in the water warn! Banded sea snake, Mimic octopus, Pilotfish... Venomous? Best not to find out.
Image by copyright Steve Childs
Now wetsuits? Makes sense, sounds logical. That said, when we enter the water, we agree to leave safety behind. Sharks will be sharks. But this still leaves me wondering if I should stripe-out my son's surf board~! Watch to the end...