NOAA Fisheries is celebrating its 150th anniversary of fisheries science since the great marine scientist Spencer Baird opened the now famous Woods Hole, Massachusetts lab in a shed borrowed from the Lighthouse Commission. A bottom trawl survey to determine the abundance of species is conducted yearly, and those aboard the trawler are always anxious to inspect what comes aboard. Some of their favorite oddities are shown below.

Chief scientist Phil Politis noted: While hanging out in the dry lab, waiting for the net to come up, I was chatting with some of my day watch crew. One of them asked me, “What is something you always look forward to seeing when you come out here?” After thinking for a moment, it hit me. I’ve been waiting this entire trip to see some “eyed” Acadian redfish!  

Acadian redfish are ovoviviparous. This means their eggs are internally fertilized and hatch inside the female. She then releases live young. Not all fish do this, so we add an extra maturity stage for redfish to describe this condition. It’s called “eyed,” which simply means the larval fish have developed eyes and are one step closer to being spawned. When we sample these fish, the larvae may spill onto the cutting board, and if you pause for a moment, you can see their tails begin to flicker back and forth. This is the only fish we catch where you can witness the larval fish moving around first-hand.  

Larval Acadian redfish with eyes wiggle around
Eyed, larval Acadian redfish. You can see their shiny eyes, and their bodies are just a couple of millimeters long. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Christine Kircun

I then asked my fellow sea-going scientists what they most looked forward to seeing, and here are some photos of their faves.

Fan Favorites 

Two snipe eels, with very long thin jaws.
Two slender snipe eels. The head of the one on the right is in better condition. You can see how the upper jaw naturally curves upward so the tips don’t touch. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Joey Dunphy

Joey Dunphy

Two long slender snipe eels coming down the sorting belt caught Joey Dunphy’s attention. This slender fish has a very thin, elongated jaw. With their mouth open, they’ll move their head back and forth and snag prey, such as shrimp, on their small, hooked teeth.  

Maggie Mahoney holding up a large, long wolffish
Maggie Mahoney holding a large wolffish. Credit: NOAA Fisheries

Maggie Mahoney

Using extreme caution, Maggie Mahoney held up a mighty wolffish. Almost as long as Maggie is tall, this fish has sharp teeth and a powerful jaw.  They regrow their teeth annually because crushing their prey—crabs, starfish, sea urchins and clams—causes a lot of wear.

Katie Rogers

Different views of a red-eyed gaper
Photo shoot with a red-eyed gaper. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Katie Rogers

Not to be upstaged by the wolffish, Katie Rogers had a photo shoot for this beautiful red-eyed gaper. This fish is a member of a deep-sea anglerfish family. Typically, it is a little more flat, but it has ballooned itself up due to the change in pressure. Also, it’s hard to miss their deep lateral lines running all over their bodies. If there was a fish version of a baseball, this would be it.

Getting back to more familiar species; the Golden Eagle from Belmar reported very good bluefish jigging as a boat lumit of 3-7-pounders was quickly taken before going into release mode.

The Queen Mary from Pt. Pleasant has also been in on that daily bluefishing excep for the first of their weekly Tuesday tuna trips which produced two bluefins plus many little tunny. and a surprise blast of mostly 11 to 15 pound bluefish in the dark on their way offshore.

Capt. Ron Santee reported a pick of keeper fluke Wednesday while fishing in perfect ocean conditions with his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands as water temperatures were back up to 68 to 70 degrees. One angler limited, and the pool winner was 4 pounds.

The forecast is for west winds at 5-10 knots before dropping to 5 knots in the afternoon. Showers are possible early and likely later along with thunderstorms.

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