Long Island Collecting Log: Deepwater squirrelfish makes a rare appearance

Todd GardnerBy Todd Gardner 4 years ago
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Sargocentron bullisis, the Deepwater Squirrelfish. Caught in Southampton, NY

Sargocentron bullisi, the Deepwater Squirrelfish. Caught in Southampton, NY

 Although it is not uncommon for the squirrelfish, Holocentrus adscensionis to show up in Long Island waters as a tropical stray, the deepwater squirrelfish, Sargocentron bullisi is a far less frequent visitor.In fact, the last known record of S. bullisi in New York State is a specimen that I collected nearly 20 years ago. As its name suggests, S. bullisi  is a deep reef species, occurring within a depth range of 33-110 meters in its normal geographic range: the tropical Western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. The specimen pictured above was caught on a dive in Shinnecock Bay, in Southampton, NY last week with the help of my wife, Ashleigh. Distinguishing characteristics for this species include a black spot between the first and second dorsal spine, and dark brown stripes separating the red from the white stripes. The brown stripes add definition to the already bright red of S. bullisi making it, in my opinion, the most striking of all the Atlantic squirrelfish. I just confirmed the capture of a second specimen on the other side of the bay by my friend, Bob Janke yesterday, so I’m guessing there are more deepwater squirrelfish out there waiting to be rescued from the onset of winter. 
The common squirrelfish, Holocentrus adscensionis

The common squirrelfish, Holocentrus adscensionis

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Todd Gardner
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 Todd Gardner

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Todd Gardner is a professor of marine biology at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead, NY. His life and his career have both been shaped by his passion for marine life and he has written numerous scientific and popular articles about his research and experiences collecting, keeping, and culturing marine organisms. Todd’s professional background includes work on a National Geographic documentary, commercial aquaculture at C-quest Hatchery in Puerto Rico, and an 11-year term at the Long Island Aquarium where he spent much of his time developing techniques for rearing marine fish larvae. To date he has raised more than 50 species. In 2013 Todd received the prestigious Aquarist of the Year Award from the Marine Aquarium Society of North America (MASNA). In his spare time, Todd dives, photographs marine life, runs marathons, and plays in a blues band.

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