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Old, Short-Lived Fish 

Historical scientific collections of fish and other animals provide an ecological snapshot in time that can prove useful to contemporary researchers in a variety of ways. Perhaps most importantly, individual specimens upon which species descriptions are based are archived in such collections for future reference, and can be accessed to verify species designations as new knowledge and methods become available. Further, preserved fish containing preserved stomach contents can provide insight into their diets; their otoliths, or ear bones, offer historic age and growth information; and their tissues can reveal the past genetic makeup of populations long replaced by subsequent generations.


Among the most prominent fish collectors was Charles H. Gilbert, mentored in his younger years by famed ichthyologist David Starr Jordan. As a founding faculty member of Stanford University and the chairman of its Zoology department, Gilbert contributed to the description of more than 600 species of fish in the late 19th and early 20th century, and, more recently, inspired the creation of the  Gilbert Ichthyological Society. His sampling legacy is now deposited in various scientific fish collections, where -- pending approval by the collection manager -- specimens can be obtained for scientific study.


Fish preserved in 95% ethanol can provide unprecedented insights into genetic change in natural populations of fishes, as samples can remain suitable for DNA extraction even after more than a century. This allows researchers to study the historic genetic attributes of populations, and, in conjunction with contemporary samples, to assess movement patterns, extinction, and colonization dynamics, as well as generate estimates of population sizes. In the case of the tidewater goby (pictured above), an endangered species that rarely grows older than one year in the wild, the availability of these old, short-lived fish collected in 1897 promises a glimpse of their source population's genetic characteristics more than 100 generations ago -- and perpetuates the scientific legacy of ichthyological giants such as C.H. Gilbert.

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Moved in, taking over? 

Each time we work on waterways in California's Central Valley, we repeatedly come across a sobering fact: non-native fishes overwhelmingly dominate the fisheries we monitor. In a recent fish monitoring effort on an ephemeral stream, we encountered more than 3,300 fish over an area that measured only 572 meters - but of these, only three individuals were native fishes. We identified 16 total species, 15 of which were non-native. While some non-native fishes enter California waterways after being one-time aquarium pets (see Don't dump that fish), many of the alien species we encountered were intentionally introduced to California.

For example, the green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), pictured above... 
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Salmon Have Arrived  

The Stockton Record  

Another near-record salmon run is expected on the Stanislaus River this fall, while farther north, thousands of fish are already splashing their way up the Mokelumne River past Lodi. So if you've never seen a mighty Chinook, this might be the year to get out there and find one. The first opportunity comes Saturday at the Stanislaus River Salmon Festival at Knights Ferry, off Highway 120 east of Oakdale. From the festival on the banks of the river...  Read more > 

Seines on the way for lower Columbia River
The Columbian
Commercial salmon fishing with purse seines and beach seines - for profit not just testing - is coming to the lower Columbia River in the fall of 2014.
Washington and Oregon plan to allow a limited number of seines in 2014, 2015 and 2016, transitioning to the phase-out of gillnets from the main stem Columbia in 2017. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife started the official process leading to commercial seining last week when it convened a meeting of an Emerging Fishery Advisory Board. Washington law specifically requires... Read more >
Chinook salmon thrive in flooded-field experiment
San Francisco Chronicle

Researchers who fattened young chinook salmon in flooded fields after the rice harvest last winter reported Thursday that the fish grew fast and to record sizes, offering a promising new way to improve survival of the long- threatened salmon. As youngsters, those rare but delectable fish of the Sacramento River swim to the ocean each spring and reach adulthood there before returning to spawn in the river's tributaries. But each year, predators kill millions of the young fish as they reach the sea because the fish are too small and helpless... Read more > 

Putting the spa in spawn: Tribe creates refuge for exhausted fish

Oregon Public Broadcasting 

The Yakama Nation's steelhead reconditioning program is like a retreat spa for fish. And it's changing the circle of life for the species. When a Columbia River steelhead completes its epic journey from ocean to spawning grounds, it is usually too exhausted to make it back down the river again. Often, the fish just dies. But tribal biologists have created a rehabilitation center that helps steelhead recover so they can get another chance to spawn... Read more >

EU reels in subsidies for ocean fisheries 

The Scientist

Europe's beleaguered fish stocks could be getting some relief soon, with EU lawmakers deciding Wednesday (October 23) to reject a proposal to heavily subsidize the continent's commercial marine fishing fleet. The vote knocked down a €6.5 million ($8.9 million) budget to fund the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy through 2020, with legislators instead backing a plan to monitor fish populations and enforce conservation regulations...  Read more >