Last Friday we set out aboard Captain Charlie's Charter Fishing boat to see what we could catch in Boston Harbor. We fished from around 9:30am to 11:30am at low tide not far from Deer Island and caught five different kinds of fish using live sea worms as bait. We caught Striped Bass, Black Sea Bass, Flounder, and Silver Hake.
The worms were an average of about 5 inches in length. They had a row of red cilia on each side to help propel them through the water. Large black pinchers protruded from their mouths when provoked.
Black Sea Bass,
Centropristis striata, are a popular commercial and recreational species along the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Florida. There are two separate stocks of black sea bass in the Atlantic, divided at approximately Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Black Sea Bass not to migrate up and down the coast but rather migrate in respect to the proximity to the shore as the water temperatures change. They prefer to remain close to structures such as rocks, reefs, and wrecks. In contrast with the Striped Bass, Black Sea Bass usually only grow to about 24 inches. Black Sea Bass are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that most are born as female but as they mature some will switch to be male, which scientists hypothesize is done as a result of the scarcity (or not done in the case of a multitude) of males in the population. When the species spawn the males turn bright blue and grow a hump of the same color on their heads.
As we all know from the Little Mermaid, flounder are dependable, reliable, sometimes timid, friends. Who can speak. And sing. The Pseudopleuronectes americanus can be found along the eastern coast from Maine to North Carolina, residing in estuaries and bays in the summer and feeding offshore in the winter. As one can deduce from the physical characteristics of the species they tend to lay on the sea floor and often bury everything but they eyes, which are situated on one side of the body. The placement of their eyes is a gradual process, when they are first born they have an eye on each side of their head but as they reach maturity and adapt to life on the ocean floor their left eye migrates to the right side of their body. The position of their eyes allows them to almost burry themselves in the sediments while still keeping two eyes on the predators above which include cod, dogfish, and monkfish. Flounder can easily be mistaken as sole, however sole is located in the Pacific and flounder is located in the Atlantic.
What the hake! Merluccius bilinearis are a nocturnal species that spend the night and dusk feeding near the surface while spending their days at the sandy or muddy bottoms, along most of the east coast. As the name suggests, the species are silver in color while darker on their back and lighter on their stomach. This difference in coloring helps disguise the species from predators from below, by camouflaging them into the lighter waters illuminated by the sun, and from above by camouflaging them into the darker sea floor below.
NOAA Fishwatch. NOAA, 5 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 July 2014. <http://www.fishwatch.gov/index.htm>.
Drohan, Amy, John P.
Manderson, and Dave G. Packer. "Black Sea Bass, Centropristis striata,
Life History and Habitat Characteristics." NOAA Technical Memorandum
(2007): 1-78. Print.
National Audubon Society
(May 2001). National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Fishes.
Knopf, Rev Sub edition (May 21, 2002).