Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Gunnels Galore

This week at Piers Park we have encountered some gloomy weather but things are starting to look brighter. Monday and Tuesday may have had some bad weather but the creatures we are pulling up are anything but dull. We have had the chance to see some animals that have not landed in our traps or buckets yet this summer!

The first ocean creature was found in our fish trap where we usually catch a group of bergalls. My initial thought to myself was, "oh this is a pleco, I've had these in my fish tank" but then I remembered plecos or plecostomus' live in freshwater so this cannot be that simple to identify. After consulting some other Harbor Educators, the best hypothesis we could devise was that this creature must be some type of sculpin.

The next ocean creature we pulled up we found flopping on the dock after pulling up a lobster trap. I immediately yelled, "what is that?!" to another staff member. We, at first glance, assumed it was an eel because of its long snake-like body. After safely putting it in the water and examining more characteristics like color, size, fins, etc we changed our minds about our initial thoughts. We came to hypothesize that we had caught a gunnel. Gunnels are long, laterally compressed fish which usually have a dorsal fin that runs along the length of its back and prefer cool inshore waters. They typically have reduced or absent pelvic fins. They also vary in color, we have caught bright orange ones like this but we have also caught ones that look similar to the sculpin's camouflage color scheme.

Excited to discover more creatures and learn more about those we have already caught!

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