Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Marine Mystery - Solved!

There are so many fascinating sea creatures that fuel our imagination every time we're enjoying the interface between land, sea and air. Perhaps that's what makes beach combing so much fun. Alanna Lashlee recently sent this picture to the Aquarium wondering, "What is this?" A friend of hers discovered this tooth-like object last week while on the beach near Panama City, FL. "She is thinking it's a shark tooth, but I think not," wrote Lashlee. "I have collected shark teeth in the past and have never seen one like this!"

Thom Demas examined the photo and helped unravel this marine mystery. "Based on the anchor point and the obvious curvature, it's my opinion that this is the spine of a catfish," said Demas. "After reading the note (written by Alanna) I know it was found in a marine location.  That means it is the spine of a gaftopsail catfish or a hardhead catfish. Both are in the same family. The gaftopsail is sometimes called the "crucifix fish" because it has a skull that looks like a crucifix."

Thanks Alanna for sharing your picture - and thanks Thom for your expertise.

This video shows a whoppper of a gaftopsail catfish. You can clearly see the prominent dorsal spine.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Naturalist reports nice birding in the Gorge

Captain Pete Hosemann shared this image taken aboard the Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge Explorer on a recent cruise. While fall color is fading, the autumn tones are still beautiful within the Gorge.

John Dever, one of the Aquarium's naturalists, reports seeing quite a few raptors on each cruise. "Yesterday was an outstanding day for continuing fall colors and the viewing of hawks and other migrants. A pair of Great Egrets wading the shoreline near Williams Island with a Bald Eagle in the trees above. Down in the Gorge we saw a couple of acrobatic Cooper's Hawks, as well as the more frequently viewed Red Tailed Hawk. On the way back we spotted a late season Osprey to round out a nice raptor list." 

The weather looks pretty nice for the upcoming Veteran's Day weekend. Maybe a relaxing day on the river is just what the doctor ordered before the holiday season begins. Enjoy!