Monday, January 13, 2014

Through the Ears of a Fish

by Ed Kluender, guest blogger

Ask a fish its age or where it's been and what it ate for lunch, and chances are it couldn't tell you.  It could probably hear your question, though, with the help of its inner ear bones, called otoliths.  Otoliths are one of the most useful tools in a fish biologist’s toolbox.  When removed and studied, otoliths can reveal a fish’s age, growth rate, and some history of where it’s been. 

Otoliths are similar to the bones in human inner ears.  They are three pairs of small stone-like structures, called the lapilli, sagittae, and asterisci (singular: lapillus, sagitta, asteriscus).  Otoliths are suspended in fluid-filled sacs, and as in humans, help with balance and orientation. 

Inner ear structure and otolith location in typical teleost fish.  The sagittae and lapilli are the two typically used for aging fish.  Source: David Secor, University of Maryland. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Q-tip anyone?

By Dana Sackett

You may have come across a video or two (or ten) of sharks munching down on dead whales and it’s easy to understand how a few sharks may get excited over encountering all that easily acquired energy-rich blubber. However, sharks are not the only ones that can benefit from these large dead mammals. Scientists can benefit too, but less so from their blubber than from their earwax. Now your initial reaction may be, “eww” but this is a true boon for scientists; especially because recent finding show how plugs of earwax can tell us about the whale’s lifetime exposure to pollution and more. 

Dead blue whale. Source

Monday, December 30, 2013

Reflections on 2013

It has been a great 2013 for The Fisheries Blog as we've seen our audience grow, largely as our topics and writers have increased.  To finish up the year, we will borrow a concept from others and give you what you are truly craving—the best of 2013

But before we hit the highlights, listen to Patrick Cooney, a writer with The Fisheries Blog, give a presentation about how we approach scientific communication.  This was presented at the American Fisheries Society conference in September 2013.

Click Here to watch the Presentation!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays from The Fisheries Blog!

Happy Holidays from The Fisheries Blog!
Dr. Abigail Lynch, Patrick Cooney, Brandon Peoples, Dr. Dana Sackett, and Dr. Steve Midway thank you for another great year!  Please check in next Monday for highlights on our articles and guests from 2013.

Be sure to like The Fisheries Blog on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@FisheriesBlog).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dolphin Deaths a Boon for Sharks?

By Tobey Curtis, Guest Blogger

It's been a tough year to be a dolphin. The Miami NFL football players aren’t the only dolphins making headlines lately. Over the last year there have been hundreds of mysterious dolphin deaths along the US Atlantic coast. By late summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had declared two “Unusual Mortality Events” for bottlenose dolphins, one in the Mid-Atlantic (New York to South Carolina), and one in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon. To date, nearly 800 dolphin deaths have been confirmed in the Mid-Atlantic region, and over 70 in the Indian River Lagoon.

Number of dolphin strandings by state for 2013 (red) and the 2007-2012 average (blue). Source: NOAA Fisheries Service

While investigations are still underway, possible culprits

Monday, December 9, 2013

One Fish, Two Fish, Where Fish for Whitefish?

by Abigail Lynch

Designing a climate change decision-support tool for Great Lakes Lake Whitefish
Imagine you are playing a game of Monopoly and are investing wisely for the future. You have numerous hotels on “Boardwalk” and are raking in the dough any time another player lands on your valuable property. Then, the rules of the game unexpectedly change. “Baltic Place” is the hot commodity and all of your painstaking investments in “Boardwalk” are for naught. Now, imagine this is not a game and your actual livelihood and family depend on your success.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sympathy for the ugliest animal in the world

by Brandon Peoples

Meet the blobfish, one of my favorite underwater underdogs. The blobfish lives in incredibly deep water (up to 4,000 feet!) off the coast of Australia, where it whiles away the days hovering over the bottom and eating whatever drifts in front of it.
Blobfish aren't exactly the most charming fish in the sea. Source

The blobfish has a face only a mother could love. In fact, it’s downright ugly.

Its thick, fleshy lips are curved into a constant frown and its body looks like it’s made out of bleached-out cherry Jell-O. On top of that, it’s got small beady eyes, stubby little pectoral fins, and a nose that looks like a dripping extension of its forehead.

Everyone loves to hate the blobfish. Its sappy looking image is plastered all over the