Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fish Findings

Earlier I wrote a post about some of the cool plankton we found during leg 1. We've sorted about 60 more samples since I wrote that -- and we've found a lot of really interesting organisms in the process! Not surprisingly, most of us get the most excited over the fish we find, so an ichthyo-oriented post was in order. I included a picture of the adult form of each fish with its larval picture -- in some cases, the adult may not be the same species as the larvae depicted, but should be a good representative of what the adult might look like.

All photos were taken using a microscope camera with the specimen in seawater to preserve color and pigments.

P.S. Our cruise is almost over, with the current plan putting us into Key West on Friday morning. This is the last night shift!

Larval Lionfish
Lionfish (Pterois volitans). Lionfish are an invasive species in the Atlantic and have no natural
enemies in this region. They also have poisonous spines and a voracious appetite for
native reef fish.
Larval sargassum fish
Sargassum fish (Histrio histrio). Sargassum fish are in the frogfish
family, and have a lot of appendages that help them blend
in with the sargassum they live in.

Larval ribbonfish
Ribbonfish (family Trachipteridae). Ribbonfish are deep-dwelling fish that come up closer to the surface at night. They have a really large dorsal fin and a very small mouth. As adults, they have a skinny, elongated body.

Larval pipefish
Pipefish (family Syngnathidae). Pipefishes are in the same family as seahorses and seadragons. They have elongated snouts with fused jaws, forming a tube-like mouth that they use to suck up food. Pipefish don't have traditional scales; their skeleton has evolved to form bony plates that encase their bodies. 
Fish eggs
Fish eggs. In the left photo you can see the embryo's eyes at the bottom right corner; this egg was still alive when this photo was taken. In the right image, the dark bands in both eggs are the growing fish.

Lizardfish larvae
Lizardfish (family Synodontidae). Lizardfish are common
on reefs and live on preferably sandy bottoms. As
adults, their coloration helps them blend into the
sand. 

Barracudina Larvae
Barracudina (family Paralepididae). Barracudinas are deep-
dwelling fish that come up near the surface at night
to feed on plankton. Despite the name they are not closely
related to barracudas. 

Slender sunfish larvae
Slender Sunfish (Ranzania laevis). This fish is a type of mola, a specialized fish that lacks a
typical fish shape. They are typically oceanic and grow up to 1 meter in length.

Swordfish larvae
Swordfish (Xiphias gladius). Swordfish are highly migratory game fish. By adulthood, their bill extends only from the upper jaw and probably use it to slash prey to make it easier to swallow. They are one of the fastest fish in the oceans.
Filefish larvae
Filefish (family Monocanthidae). Filefish are common on reefs are have rough, sandpapery skin that
gives them their name. The spine on their top of their heads can be locked, preventing predators from easily removing them from crevices in the reef. They are closely related to triggerfish and pufferfish.


All photos are the property of NOAA. Reproduction, manipulation, or downloading are prohibited without permission by Kat Dale. Thanks!

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