A Chilly Night and a Flounder that Doesn’t Belong

This past Thursday, undergraduate and graduate students went to Sebastian Inlet at dusk on a search for Ladyfish. The trip was a general success for some, and a flop for others, but fun was had all around. Several classes participated in this research opportunity proposed by Dr. Shenker.  My Biological Diversity class was among  some of the participants.

The mission:

To capture Ladyfish for Dr. Shenker’s aquaculture lab at Vero Beach. These individuals were to be injected with hormones to induce spawning in captivity since fish are less prone to spawn in small enclosed areas. Dr. Shenker’s goal is to grow them in aquaculture because they are a big sport fish here in Florida.

The car ride:

Starting at 5:30 pm, the car ride to Sebastian Inlet began. This car ride consisted of forty five minutes of listening to bad rap songs with friends and getting excited to see some Ladyfish, and (hopefully!) sharks! I even wore my special shark socks to build my case to the shark gods that I wanted to see a shark!

The event:

It was cold. I know, Florida? Cold? What? It was about fifty degrees outside and the wind was blowing consistently by the time we arrived at the inlet. The first part of the trip involved watching an adorable child carry live fish to his family while we waited for the sun to go down and the fish to come out.

Then came an unsuccessful two hours of not catching any fish on a fishing line, but that was not discouraging for the simple fact that the plankton nets were the source of our entertainment. While the anglers tried their luck with live mullet for bait, two students from Dr. Turner’s marine biology class were collecting samples of zooplankton and phytoplankton for lab. Their plankton nets caught a variety of organisms including crabs, small fish, leaves, twigs, and dirt. The most interesting specimen that came from the plankton net was a fourteen inch flounder!

While we’re not quite sure how the flounder (which is normally a bottom dweller) was caught on the surface, or how it managed to fit into our plankton net, it was quite an interesting find when we were trying to identify organisms.

Though the trip was unsuccessful in its plan to gather Ladyfish and inject them with hormones to induce spawning, it was quite successful in catching a sick flounder and learning how to go fishing.


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