Friday, July 1, 2011

Where have all the soldiers gone??,,,er make that Midshipmen.

Spring and Summer are prime Plainfin Midshipman spawning seasons.  The Plainfin Midshipman is a rather cool looking fish....although rather drab brown its body has multiple rows of shiny brass buttons...thus the Midshipman name.  In some California the buttons can be made to light up by the fish...function unknown.  In Washington State this bioluminescence is not found....and this has to do with the diet of the fish; they don't get the right kind of copepods to feed on up here.  There are two types of males...type 1 and type 2.  Type 1 males dig nests under rocks and sing to attract females...if the female likes the tune she will enter the nest and lay eggs that are attached to the bottom of the rock.  After fertilizing the eggs the male will guard the eggs until the young fish depart.  Type 2 males are sneaky suckers...looking like females and sounding like them.  Their sinister plan is to fool the type 1 male into believing they are females and allowing them into the nest where they will wait until a true female spawns and then attempt to fertilize the eggs before the type 1 gets wise.  A few years back Blakely Harbor, Bainbridge Island WA was rich with nesting Midshipmen..all guarding eggs.  Today I found none.  But somebody else did...the intertidal bandit, who ate three Midshipmen in about 15 minutes.  So now I know where at least three Midshipmen went and no doubt many more.

Midshipman male with eggs

Juv. Midshipmen ready to leave nest

Blakely Harbor Bainbridge Island WA

Blakely Harbor Bainbridge Island WA

End of a Midshipman

Midshipman #2

I'm stuffed!

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