Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Don's Blog Fish on the Beach 11-1-16

We have a small sand beach at the lake house. This weekend there were remains of a huge paddlefish
on the beach. It was about four feet in length and had been cleaned down to its hard heavy bones by the locals.



Paddlefish (family Polyodontidae) are basal Chondrostean ray-finned fish. They are referred to as "primitive fish" because they have evolved with few morphological changes since the earliest fossil records of the Late Cretaceous, seventy to seventy-five million years ago. The American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)  is native to the Mississippi River basin in the U.S. The snout (rostrum) of the paddlefish is broad and paddle-like. Common morphological characteristics of paddlefish include a spindle-shaped, smooth skinned scaleless body, heterocercal tail, and small poorly developed eyes. The jaws of the American paddlefish are distinctly adapted for filter feeding only.They are ram suspension filter feeders with a diet that consists primarily of zooplankton, and occasionally small insects, insect larvae, and small fish. They are one of the largest freshwater fishes in North America commonly reaching 5 feet  or more in length and can weigh more than 60 pounds. The paddlefish on the beach was at least 4 feet long.

Now the question is what the hell are paddlefish doing in our 15 acre man made lake? I do not know.  We have watched them breech in the lake for years. As filter feeders they seem to be harmless. They are huge and the carcass was hard and heavy. They are mentioned in the Innsbrook Fishing Regulations: "Release all paddlefish." They are a source of caviar but I am not certain who would own it or how it could be harvested.
I guess I will have to wait for the invitation to the Lake Aspen Caviar Extravaganza.



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