Saltwater collecting season: juvenile lookdowns, sea robins, flounder, etc.
A summer flounder (~ 2 inches long)
As the weather warms up, the aquarium department takes full advantage of our brief opportunities to catch all the saltwater fishes we will need until next year. Early summer is an excellent time to collect, not only because of the weather; a wide variety of juvenile fishes frequent the shallows as they begin to prey on invertebrates, micro-crustaceans and larval fishes close to shore. These miniature predators are voracious and eat constantly to fuel their rapid growth. Come fall they must be large and healthy enough to survive among the big boys when they will either migrate southward or move into deeper water. During the summer we are able to collect a wide variety of species: summer flounder, lookdowns, puffers, sea robins, black sea bass, jacks with a beach seine, sometimes in the same haul! Many of these species would be much more difficult to acquire as adults, so we seize the opportunity to catch them while we can. There are several benefits to collecting fishes as juveniles - other than convenience - but most importantly juveniles acclimate to captivity much more readily than adults. Below are just a few of the juvenile fishes we collected this season with (hopefully) many more to come.
Juvenile lookdown (approximately the size of a quarter)