The Bay Pipefish

By Jesse W.M Campbell

Common name: Bay Pipefish, North West Pacific Pipefish, Kelp Pipefish

Scientific name: Sygnathus leptorhynchus (Sygnathus griseolineatus)

Size range: Females may grow up to 39cm (15.6 inches).


Identifying Features:  A long, slender, tube like body with bony plates giving the animal a slightly hexagonal circumference. The dorsal fin is shallow, rectangular, and mostly translucent giving the Bay Pipefish the appearance of having an undulating flag attached to its vertebrae. The pectoral (side, by gill cover) and tail fins are semi circular and tiny in proportion to its elongated body. Bay Pipefish undulate there dorsal fins and paddle the pectoral fins while the body positions itself. The pipefish steers by moving its head up, down and side to side.  Like other members of the Syngnathos (together-jaws) genre the Bay Pipefish has a small terminal (upward directed) mouth with a long, slender, tube like cavity leading to the gill covers. The body plates meet to form a bony ridge along the length of the body which contains the sensory organs which are collectively known as the lateral line. Bay Pipefish are often seen in varying shades of forest and emerald green.  Olive and sand colored varieties are also known.

Habitat: The Bay Pipefish is found from Baja California to Sitka Alaska.  They are commonly found in Eel Grass beds as well as in or near sloughs and wharves such as Maple bay near the city of Duncan, British Columbia, Canada. They are generally found in shallow areas where light can penetrate to the algae beds where their favorite foods can be found.  They camouflage most effectively within Eel Grass beds. Slow currents are required for the Bay Pipefish to remain on course when searching for food, or for mating, because they are not the most efficient swimmers and steer using their heads.

Food: Crustaceans such as Amphipods, Copepods, and crab larvae proliferate in sheltered bays and Eel Grass beds. The Pipefish captures its prey by inflating its ‘cheeks’ and sucking up the morsels through its slender mouth directly to the stomach.

Predators:  There is no major commercial or sport fisheries for the Bay Pipefish. Dried pipefish and seahorses, mixed with herbs, are used as a holistic treatment in some cultures.  The collection ofSygnathus for this purpose is one of the key factors that places some of their populations at risk, particularly the seahorses.  If caught in a sudden low tide on a rocky shore the Bay pipefish may become stranded in a tidal pool and be open to predation form birds and other scavengers. The Bay pipefish’s main defense is to remain inconspicuous and to look like a meager meal.

Life Cycle:  As like other members of the Sygnathus genus the male Bay Pipefish raises the eggs. The female Pipefish courts the male, she may deposit up to 225 eggs to the brood pouch on the underside of the male. A protective membrane develops over the pouch sealing the eggs inside for incubation. The male supplies nourishment to the eggs by attachment to the abdominal wall and bloodstream. If food becomes scarce the male may derive nutrients from a few of the eggs to sustain himself for the greater good of the brood. Not all eggs will survive, those who do hatch into miniature bug eyed adults after about 2 weeks depending on water parameters. Male Pipefish have been reported carrying eggs as early as May 26th and as late as August.

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Author: Spencer Mann

Common name(s): Copper Rockfish, White Belly, and Chucklehead.

Scientific name: Sebastes caurinus

Size range: 12- 22 inches (38.1cm – 55.9cm) and weigh 4 – 10lbs


Identifying Features:

The Copper Rockfish can come in a wide range of sizes and colours. The generic colours are a white belly with orange or copper sides running from head to tail. These fish have a distinct line that runs from the front to the back of the fish. Other colours range from orange, gold, copper with a yellow highlight or brown with a pinkish tinge. They have a spiky dorsal fin with two smaller fins near the tail. Females can be identified easily simply by their size. They are larger than males because space is needed to hold more young. The young are generally the same colours as the juveniles and adults, just very small.

Habitat:

These fish are found along the west coast in the Pacific Ocean and commonly found in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. They have been found as far north as the Gulf of Alaska. Copper Rockfish live in shallow waters about 10 – 15ft deep to the dark depths of 600ft. They can live with other creatures in similar depths and have no problem adapting. Adult fish hide out along the sea floor around rocks and plants. Once the Copper Rockfish has chosen an area to call “home”, it will not swim more than a mile from that place.

Food:

Juveniles begin feeding on planktonic crustaceans until they are able to hunt bigger prey. Older Copper Rockfish will feed on organisms such as shrimp, snails, small crabs, worms, small fish, squid and octopuses.

Predators:

The juveniles hide in kelp forests and rocky areas to avoid predators such as Lingcod, Cabezon, and also salmon. As they mature, Copper Rockfish are prayed on by sea birds and sea mammals like seals and otters. As well as humans who catch them as food and for fun because they are considered a sport fish. Copper Rockfish are known to be the last to die in a net full of rockfish. They will continue to try to escape long after others have died.

Life Cycle:

Males mature between the ages of three and seven years and females mature between four to eight years. Females are generally larger to obtain up to 20,000 eggs. Each egg is 0.05 inches in diameter and the walls are 0.1 inch thick. Normally fish eggs develop outside a female, but for the Copper Rockfish, it’s internal. These females are known as a viviparous fish meaning that they will give birth to live young after 8 – 10 months. The Copper Rockfish can reach the ages of forty plus years. The young are generally the same colours as the juveniles and adults.

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Silver Spotted Sculpin

By Oshia Shillingford

Common name: Silver Spotted Sculpin

Scientific name: Blepsias cirrhosus

Size range: Up to 19cm (7.5 inches) in length


Identifying Features:  The Silver Spotted Sculpin is light olive brown, green or coppery yellow in colour. It has reflective silver spots located behind the pectoral fins.  It has two dorsal fins, and the second dorsal fin is larger than the first. It has prominent cirri on the nose and bottom jaw.

Habitat: The Silver Spotted Sculpin is found in Southern British Columbia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  It is often found in protected shallow water among marine plants such as eel grass as well as in kelp beds on exposed shores.

Food: The Biology 11 class with Mr. Young has the Silver spotted Sculpin in an aquarium for four months.  Within our aquarium it has only been observed eating live shrimp and would not eat the frozen krill.  It appears to be an ambush predator.  It has been observed hiding in the eel grass for long periods of time.  Its colouration is very cryptic and it is hard to see within the rotting blades of the eel grass.  it darts out to catch the live shrimp and if it’s unsuccessful it will retreat back in to cover.

Predators: The Silver Spotted Sculpin has not been observed being taken as prey.   Larger fish or river otters might find the Silver Spotted Sculpin a tasty snack.  It is very cautious in nature and prefers to be hidden in eel grass and kelp and often looks like floating kelp itself.

Life Cycle: Observations are limited on reproduction. Eggs are clear, light brown or blue and they are attached to rocks in shallow waters. In the Puget Sound the eggs ripen in early February.

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