Summer 2013

  • _fourspotflounder.jpg
     The Fourspot Flounder feeds on small crustaceans, as well as worms, mollusks and small fish. This specimen is 80 mm long, but adults can reach a maximum size of 40cm (1.3ft.).  
  •  _roughtailstingray.jpg
     Roughtail Stingrays usually occur in shallow coastal waters but have been found at depths as great as 300m (980ft.). The majority of their diet consists of crustaceans, mollusks, and worms.  
  • _redgoatfish.jpg
     Goatfish are bottom-dwelling fish distinguished by their barbels and distinctly forked tail. They use the barbels to stir up sand and locate food. The bright color patterns of goatfish can change with habitat and time of day.  
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The summer months annually bring the most diversity to the catches of the VIMS Juvenile Fish Trawl Survey.  As such, several species of note have been identified among the Spot, Atlantic Croaker, Summer Flounder, Weakfish and Hogchokers that typify a normal Trawl Survey sample.  Fourspot Flounder (Paralichthys oblongus) , Roughtail Stingray (Dasyatis centroura) and Red Goatfish (Mullus auratus) are among these species of note. 

Fourspot Flounder are one of nine species in the family Paralichthyidae (left eyed flatfishes) known from Chesapeake Bay waters.  Like all species in the family, Fourspot Flounder are characterized by having a laterally compressed body with both eyes on the left side of their head.  Fourspot Flounder are easily identified by the four ocelli (ringed spots) present on the eyed side of the fish.  Two are approximately midway down the body and the remaining two are located just forward of the tail. Though this species is known from Georges Bank to Florida, Fourspot Flounder are rare visitors to Chesapeake Bay as they spend the majority of their life on the continental shelf at depths greater than 100ft. 

Roughtail Stingrays are one of four species of stingrays commonly encountered in Chesapeake Bay.  Roughtail Stingrays may obtain disk widths of 10 ft. or more and are easily distinguished from the other three species by having thornlike tubercles along the sides of their long whiplike tail.  Like other stingrays, Roughtail Stingrays possess one or more serrated spines located near the base of the tail and can inflict serious and painful wounds on careless individuals that may come in contact with them. 

As noted in previous Net Notes, Red Goatfish are a tropical species that until recently were only seen as strays a handful of times on the VIMS Trawl Survey. More recently, however, this species has been seen with some regularity.  Red Goatfish, one of two species from the family Mullidae known from Chesapeake Bay, are small fish rarely exceeding 10 inches, with blotchy red markings on their sides, deeply forked tails and two fleshy barbels under their chin, which are used in their search for food.