Monday, May 19, 2008


oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau)
Have you ever seen anything as bizarre-looking as this fish? It is an oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau). They eat oysters... in the shell. Very impressive. Of course they aren't very picky eaters. They will eat about anything that comes along.

According to Wikipedia:

The fish has a distinctive "foghorn" sound that is used by males to attract females in the mating season, which is April-October. Following the foghorn sound, the female comes into the nest, lays eggs, then leaves (the toadfish lays the largest eggs of any Chesapeake Bay fish). The male fertilizes the egg; they hatch after approximately one month. When the eggs hatch the young toadfish stay attached to the yolk for some time. When the yolk has been absorbed for energy, the young toadfish learn to swim. Even when the young have started to swim the adult still protects its young.
We caught a few of these radical looking fish on our fishing trip this weekend. Actually one of the ones that we caught may have been pretty close to a record-breaker. According to the Wikipedia article they don't get much bigger than 16 inches, and one of the ones that we caught was pretty close to that size.

Our guide told us that they have a pretty nasty attitude too. He said that they will actually come after divers sometimes.

My brother-in-law found out the hard way how aggressive they can be. We had a few in the cooler on ice along with the other fish we caught (a southern cod, several black sea bass, and a nice flounder.) He wanted to show my sister and niece the fish that we had caught and went rummaging around in the ice to find them. Well, one of them still had a little fight left in him and when my brother-in-law got his hand close to his mouth, the fish decided a little pay back was in order.

The next thing we knew, Dusty was bellowing and the fish went sailing through the air! (Shortly after having been attached to one of his fingers!) I told him that would happen! Needless to say he didn't dig around for any more fish.

All in all it was a pretty nice trip. The water wasn't too rough and we caught a few fish. Our guide was OK, although he wouldn't qualify as our best guide ever. That honor would have to go to a fellow that we chartered with out of South Port, NC. Still, it was nice being on the water and catching some fish. We also got to watch a group of Navy ships coming back from Iraq, bringing some Camp Lejeune Marines back from their tour of duty. That was neat too.

Today we got the fish cleaned and I buried their remains in our garden. That should have some future archaeologists scratching their heads one day!

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