Learning About Juvenile Fishes (June 2, 2015)

During field work conducted on May 20th at the Redfish Rocks site we collected several hundred baby fish, mainly cabezon, from our SMURF sampling devices. Every two weeks throughout the summer we are collecting baby fish samples from our SMURF devices set out at the Redfish Rocks and Otter Rock sites. This is part of a collaborative research study led by Oregon State University (OSU), to learn more about juvenile fishes. Scientists refer to these new fish settlers as recruits, since they are “recruiting” to the bottom for the first time.

One of the difficulties in studying recruits is it’s hard to identify one species from another. A baby fish can have different colors and body shape compared to its adult counterpart. For example, black rockfish and blue rockfish recruits are virtually identical while the adults have clearer differences in coloration. Think about how tough it is to match people you don’t know to a stack of baby photos from 30 years ago! To identify these recruits, scientists from OSU are focusing on key characteristics on the fins, mouth, and gills of each fish and using genetics to confirm identification when needed.

Thanks to Oregon Coast Aquarium divers, Erin and Doug, for collecting the samples and to Tom for the shoreside help processing these fish at the OSU Port Orford Field station. This week we’ll again be collecting baby fish samples at both Otter Rock and Redfish Rocks.




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