October 2008

As water temperatures decrease, scientists from the VIMS Juvenile Fish Survey see a general decrease in the diversity of species present in Chesapeake Bay. This held true during the past month, although several unique species appeared among the regular autumn fish assemblage. The survey scientists caught a Rough Scad while sampling near the Bay mouth just outside the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Rough Scad are a member of the Jack family that occasionally visits the Lower Bay in late summer and early autumn. Rough Scad are small silvery fish (maximum length of approximately 1 ft.) with relatively large scutes along their lateral lines.

Another interesting and lesser-known fish species seen in samples this month is the Fringed Flounder, a diminutive flatfish that occasionally visits the Bay. This month’s samples yielded greater numbers of these fish than any other sampling events in recent memory. Like Summer Flounder, Fringed Flounder have both eyes on the left side of their bodies but these small fish rarely exceed 5 inches in total length.

Large Summer Flounder (21 to 23 inches) were also still present in the Bay with fairly high numbers measured near the Eastern Shore’s recreational fishing hotspots: outside of Cherrystone Inlet, on Old Plantation flats, and at Buoy 42A. Occasional large fish were also measured in Butchers Creek (also along the Eastern Shore) and under the Coleman Bridge on the York River.