Friday, September 13, 2013

Brook, rainbow, and brown trout feeding frenzy

This first video was taken today during our 11 am trout feeding program the Mountain Cove Exhibit. The main exhibit has three distinct sections: brown trout (immediately below the waterfall), the mountain stream (home to darters and dace, including the P. rex), and this portion which is a combination of approximately 14 each of rainbow trout and brook trout. The trout are fed GrowMax trout chow every M, W, F, Sunday during the public feeding and a variety of natural foods on the days in between. Each section, including these trout, breed at least once a year. In fact, the largest female brown trout released eggs this morning. We generally do not collect and raise the eggs - the trout eat them otherwise - unless we have a specific need, but there are both brooks and rainbows currently in this exhibit that we raised from eggs a few seasons ago.
The second video is of the brown trout feeding. The largest female is approximately 12 pounds and is over nine years old.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Roanoke logperch in the wild - rare underwater glimpse of them in the Nottoway River

This video of  Percina rex in the wild was taken from the Nottoway River, a relatively pristine tannin-stained river that forms the headwaters of the Chowan drainage system. The Nottoway is exceptionally rich in species of fishes and quite beautiful as well. The footage is of a single, large adult Percina rex in its natural habitat and was one of four different Roanoke logperch of three size classes seen at this location.

 Three male P.rex encircle a single female vying for the chance to mate

The Roanoke logperch Percina rex is one of Virginia's largest and rarest darter species; currently listed as Federally Threatened and Endangered since 1989. Thanks to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries we have been fortunate enough to display several of these beautiful creatures here at the VLM. Our P. rex population, housed in the Mountain Stream Exhibit has been thriving and has displayed natural mating behaviors on several occasions - a sign of healthy animals in an appropriate environment. They are excellent display animals because they are large - for this type of fish - colorful, and remain in the open for the guests (and staff) to see and enjoy. But due to such small numbers in the wild, only researches, biologists, and lucky darter nerds get to see them in their native habitat.

 The roanoke logperch (center) on exhibit are not shy when it comes to food