Monday, March 23, 2009

Darters, Part II

I offer some more photos from Sunday's aquatic excursion - images of those beautiful little fish known as darters. It would be a better place if everyone could see these colorful little jewels in person - any life would be enriched.

Banded Darter, Etheostoma zonale. These elfin beasts lurk in the cobble of riffles, seeking out, attacking, and eating small stream life. I suppose it would be an honor to be consumed by such a beautiful creature. Better than being eaten by a catfish!

Banded Darters are a common stream species in much of Ohio, and have a distinctive pattern of uniform emerald-green stripes along the body.

While certainly not a candidate for the Elton John Award for Excessive Gaudiness amongst Darters, Johnny Darters, Etheostoma nigrum, have their own charm. Johnnys are often very common in Ohio streams, and have an interesting pattern of little W's along their sides.

The blue whale of the darter world, a Logperch, Percina caprodes. The average darter probably measures a scant two-three inches. These whoppers can tape out at seven inches.

Almost unbelievably showy in tones of emerald, offset with a band of brilliant orange at the base of the dorsal fin, is the Greenside Darter, Etheostoma blennioides.

One more of the Greenside Darter. This is a real ooh and aah fish, guaranteed to get a reaction from someone who has never seen one before. They have an interesting and scattered distribution, with some populations well removed from others.

One of Ohio's real rarities, a Bluebreast Darter, Etheostoma camurum. Bluebreasts are only known from seven states, and populations tend to small and localized. It's considered threatened in Ohio.

While not as overtly showy as some other darter species, like many critters, it's hard to do full justice to a Bluebreast Darter through the lens of a camera. The sides are stippled with bright orange spots, and the fins have strong yellow tones. Barely visible is the rich turquoise-blue throat patch.
Capturing and photographing aquatic species such as these darters is a real treat, and I've got more pics to come. I also hope to make one more field trip this spring, and apply some improvements in photographic technique for shooting fish.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

My gosh. I am completely captivated by these gorgeous denziens of the creeks. I have painted the Rainbow Darter. I will have to do a couple of these fish too.

In painting the Rainbow Darter I noticed that the rocks in the lower left hand corner of your picture seem to have faces, sort of like a mask. Had you noticed this?? They seem quite alive too.

Justin said...

Great photos of wonderful organisms! How on earth did you take them?

Jared Mizanin said...

Jim, how do you capture, observe, and photograph these guys? I wouldn't mind studying/photographing a few of the local species in my area, but I know nearly nothing about fish.

Great post. Really enjoying these darters!

mangoverde said...

Jim, I too am curious how you took the photos. They are very nice.

Jim McCormac said...

Glad everyone likes the photos! I had a ball shooting them, and look forward to more efforts. I just described the techniques I used in the last post on darters.

Of course, the biggest challenge is knowing how to find the fish and where to look!


Jim McCormac said...

That's hilarious, and what a great observation, Lisa! After you mentioned the rock, I went back and looked, and yes, it looks amazingly like that Bluebreast Darter's face!


Short-eared Owls

A short-eared owl courses low over grasslands in a reclaimed stripmine in eastern Ohio. It and three comrades were mousing, or perhaps mo...