Thursday, January 28, 2016

Parasite Selfie: The “Duckface”

The first installment of 2016’s parasite selfies is about the Class Monogenea, which includes thousands of species of mostly microscopic critters (typically under 2 mm) that are found on the external surface of a fish, and are usually very host specific. They have unique attachment organs, called haptors, which come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and are one of the best aids for identification. Together, the arrangement, shape and size of hooks, anchors, suckers and/or clamps are unique to each species. The haptor is located at the posterior end of the body while the adhesive head organs, including the pharynx and mouth, are located at the anterior end. One of the reasons I chose Class Monogenea for this blog post is because the shape of the muscular pharynx (Figure 1) resembles the all too common “duckface” selfie that seems to have infiltrated the social media accounts of celebrities and young college girls alike. Regular perpetrators of this stereotypical expression include celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj, and the man who may be regarded as the father of the duckface phenomena, the one and only Derek Zoolander (#BlueSteele). I myself succumbed to the duckface craze during my undergrad days, and while embarrassing, the similarity between myself and a tiny, hungry parasite is too striking not to share. Do you see it?!

Figure 1. Duckface selfie. The monogenean shown is a species of Rhabdosynochus, which infects common snook, Centropomus undecimalis, in Florida waters. The arrow points to the muscular pharynx, which has been edited in color for your viewing pleasure, and to match the shade of my lipstick. Photo credit: FWC, Fish and Wildlife Health group for the image of Rhabdosynochus.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ode to Batfish: Biology in Verse


Oh batfish, oh batfish of the briny deep
On modified pectoral fins you creep
“Walking” along the benthic sea floor
Of all the fishes, it’s you I adore

Saturday, November 7, 2015

PIT tags and Passive Antenna Systems- PART 1: A Sunpass for Sunfish.



Hi folks!

            Whether you’re a fisherman or a scientist one of the most simple and common questions while out on the water is: Where are the fish?  Well, in order to answer that we need to understand fish movement patterns along with the how, when and why fish will be in a given area.  In this 2-part post I will discuss tracking fish movement with PIT tags & passive antenna systems and my experience applying this technology across environmental extremes to both the Everglades marsh and arctic tundra river systems. 
            Recent technological advances have seen a boom in different movement tracking devices available to fisheries scientists.  Acoustics, radio telemetry, and satellite tags have provided a wealth of previously unattainable information but have species specific size restrictions and are often too expensive for the budget of many researchers.  In these cases, PIT tags and their associated passive antenna systems provide a cost effective way for the researcher to study the movements and habitat use of fish both large and small.