Welcome to the Marine Management News Fish Identification Quiz for October 2014! Here’s your chance to show off your fish identification knowledge and win an official Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) fish tagging cap. To qualify for the drawing, simply send the correct information to AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov by December 15, 2014 identifying:
- The species of the fish pictured below (scientific name) and an accepted common name, and
- The daily bag limit, as found in the 2014-2015 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet
Be sure to enter “October MMN Fish Quiz” as the “Subject” of your e-mail. The winner will be selected during a random drawing from all correct answers received by December 15, 2014. See the correct answer to the quiz.
Biologists have yet to determine where and when this species reproduces, although there are indications that it may spawn in the spring. Very small fish, about one-half inch in length, resemble miniature adults right down to the number of fin rays. Young fish under 8 inches long are believed to be juveniles, although biologists are not sure of their exact size and age at maturity.
This fish is a mid-water predator. As adults, they eat squid, crustaceans, and fishes such as anchovy, lancetfish, and cutlassfish; the diets of newly hatched and juvenile fish are not known. In October 2012, orcas were photographed eating one of these fish at the surface in Monterey Bay, the first documented predation event on this fish (aside from human predation). Whether this fish is frequently hunted by orcas, or was a “meal of opportunity” for them in this instance, is unknown. No other predators have been documented for this species.
This type of fish occurs worldwide in temperate and tropical seas. In the eastern Pacific, it can be found from Chile to the Gulf of Alaska. It is most often seen off Southern California during warm water events, such as El Niños. All life stages of this species live in open ocean waters, from the sea surface to a depth of 1,680 feet.
This fish’s disc-shaped body lends itself to a variety of traveling modes. It can swim slowly, accelerate quickly, and maintain cruising speeds easily, all of which make it perfectly suited to its deep ocean home. This species reportedly can grow to 72 inches (6 feet) in length. They are known to reach a weight of at least 160 pounds, and may weigh as much as 500 to 600 pounds.
The largest recorded commercial landings in California for this type of fish have historically occurred after El Niño years. For example, over half a million pounds was landed in 1984, and nearly a quarter of a million pounds in 1999 after El Niño events; in contrast, during some colder-water years there were no landings of this species. Nearly all landings were caught incidentally during drift gillnet fishing; no targeted fishery for this species exists in state waters. Longline operations do target this fish on the high seas, outside of the U. S. Exclusive Economic Zone (200-mile limit). About half the California-based commercial landings of this species have occurred in San Diego, although landings have also been recorded as far north as Crescent City near the California-Oregon border. This species is considered a good-eating fish and is marketed fresh and frozen, and prepared as sashimi.
Recreational anglers occasionally catch this species while targeting tuna using live bait or artificial lures. While recreational anglers may catch this fish statewide, catches occur more often from the Channel Islands southward.
If you think you know this species of fish, enter the prize drawing by sending an e-mail to CDFW at AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov by December 15, 2014 with the correct scientific name, an accepted common name, and the daily bag limit as found in the 2014-2015 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet. Again, be sure to enter “October MMN Fish Quiz” in the “Subject” portion of your e-mail.
UPDATE — DECEMBER 16 Congratulations go out to Mark Sirof of La Canada Flintridge, California for correctly identifying the October 2014 mystery fish as an opah, Lampris guttatus. The daily bag limit for opah is 10 fish, within the general bag limit of 20 fish total. This bag limit is applicable to all species of fish for which take is allowed, but no other bag limit is specified, per California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 27.60(a). You can find this regulation on pg. 33 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet.
Mark loves to take his 21-ft. Boston Whaler out to the islands to fish. “That is one place I can really feel that I’ve gotten away from it all,” he said. He also likes to take his 10-year-old twins – a boy and a girl – out to fish for rockfish, ocean whitefish, and California sheephead. Congratulations again Mark, we hope that you will continue to enjoy the Marine Management News blog for many years to come!
Look for a new Fish Identification Quiz coming your way in February, 2015.
post by Mary Patyten, CDFW Research Writer ♦ photo by Dr. Michael Maia Mincarone