So today I was identifying samples from Lostman's River. If you remember a few posts ago I talked about oyster reefs, and this area has quite a few oyster bars; it is an area where a freshwater outflow from the Everglades meets the Gulf of Mexico. Normally, oyster bars and reefs support rich communities, however high turbidity in this particular area had led us to believe otherwise.
While I do not have the actual figures, we are still finishing up, I can say that from what I have seen there are a decent number of animals, mainly very small juveniles. There are definitely more animals than I expected to get having traveled to the area and conducted the sampling, but not as many as animals as one would expect from a healthy oyster reef. (That being said, I don't believe this oyster reef area is healthy, I am not even sure that the oysters here are even alive anymore, probably due to the sedimentation coming out of the Everglades. Apparently, as I have heard from some of the veteran researchers, this area used to be crystal clear before Andrew in 92 destroyed a lot of trees in the glades, allowing for erosion and now the highly turbid water we find today.)
Anyway, today I came across a searobin in a sample that I had never seen before. Not that I claim to have seen every fish, but we do come into contact with searobins up north and sometimes tropicals. But this searobin turned out to be a leopard searobin, Prionotus scitulus. Anyways, its not particularly exciting but I thought it was worthy of a mention here. Searobins occurs in bays and estuaries and the continental shelf, and this one is no different, rarely, if ever, found below 45m. This species is identifiable by the two spots on the dorsal fin, one after the 1st spine and one between spines 4 and 5. The barred searobin has the same markings, and the difference is that leopard searobins have no scales on their throat region. The leopard searobin stays smaller than the two species I was previously familiar with and had no commercial value (although I do hear that they are decent eating, the tails have a lot of meat).
I hope you learned something today.