Saturday, May 21, 2016

FISHING STORIES: Winter Flounder Tournament Time! (May 21, 2016)

On Saturday May 21st, we participated in our first-ever fishing tournament, the 4th Annual Iron Bill Winter Flounder Tournament at Jones Beach Pier! 
(Photo Credit: Ed Wagner)

Thank you Ed Walsh of Jones Beach Fishing Station for inviting us! Although a flounder we did not catch, we still had a blast! 
Kuan, Nyack College Fishing Club member, caught this stunning Northern Sea Robin (Prionotus carolinus). This unique local orange-colored species has wing-like pectoral fins and little walking legs (which are actually modified pectoral fin rays) that it uses to feel around and taste the ocean bottom! This species is also famous for making intriguing croaking noises.

Here is Hector, Nyack College Fishing Club member, with a Northern Pufferfish (a.k.a. Blowfish) (Sphoeroides maculatus). Although the fish was caught by a neighboring angler, we just had to take a photo (with permission, of course) of this oddball local fish species! The Northern Pufferfish is a teardrop-shaped fish that can inflate ("puff up") into a ball on its own will. Their expandable stomach allows them to swallow either air or water! It does this as a self-defense strategy, making it nearly impossible to be swallowed by a predator!

We also caught a fair number of Common Spider Crabs (Libinia emarginata). Although this local species is not edible, its close cousin is the Alaskan King Crab, of the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" fame.

And some Atlantic Rock Crabs (Cancer irroratus) made their presence known...

One notable rock crab had a miniature right claw, probably being regenerated after having lost the previous one in the recent past. Every animal has a story. We wonder how this guy lost a claw....? :)
We also saw a crab that is not really a crab. A big Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus) made it on the pier, caught by another neighbor. This invertebrate is actually not a true crab. It does not have the following: the right number of legs and claws (True crabs are "decapods," meaning ten feet!), an abdomen tucked under the body, internal gills, or biramous appendages (paired appendages attached at a common base). The Horseshoe Crab does have pincer-like chelicerae (mouthparts also found in scorpion and spiders) and book gills (very similar to the book lungs of scorpions). Thus, the Horseshoe Crab's closest cousins are actually spiders and scorpions, altogether comprising a group that biologists call Chelicerata! Other neat facts about Horseshoe Crabs: 1) Their mouth is located between their shoulders; 2) They have four eyes: two simple eyes (for detecting light and dark) + two compound eyes (for visualizing our images); 3) Their tail (called a telson) is NOT poisonous and NOT used intentionally to inflict harm to other animals; it is used only to right itself when the animal is flipped. That said however, the telson was possibly used by Native Americans as tips for spears; 4) They have blue-colored blood with such amazing anti-bacterial properties that it is studied by biomed researchers for potential human medical benefits.

While reeling in some seaweed, we also caught a glimpse of small peculiar, often overlooked, invertebrates - Amphipods and Skeleton Shrimp!

Skeleton Shrimp

We did not catch a flounder, and so, we didn't make the scoreboard this year. Overall though, we still had a great time learning a bit more about Long Island's precious south shore waters. Amazing invertebrates and a neat Sea Robin was our tournament haul. :)

Oh the anticipation! Not to worry - We will be back next year to catch the elusive Winter Flounder!

Quotes of the Day

- "I caught a fish! First fish on my new fishing rod!" - Kuan

- "This pier is really cool!" - Hector

- "I wanna catch a fish in the crab trap!" - Zachary  



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