Skip to main content

Excellent new Native Fishes of Ohio book

COLUMBUS DISPATCH
January 4, 2015


NATURE
Jim McCormac

Book about way more than bass

About half of the world’s more than 62,000 species of vertebrate animals are mostly hidden from view — the fishes, which live in a watery world largely off-limits to people.

The aquatic community is one of mystery; its secrets are only occasionally revealed to the casual observer.

Dan Rice and Gary Meszaros are hardly strangers to aquatic ecosystems. Both men have spent decades surveying Ohio’s fishes, in every corner of the state. They have paired to produce a beautiful new book, Native Fishes of Ohio (Kent State University, 113 pages, $24.95). Their project shines a light on Ohio’s stunning fish fauna in a way that no previous work has managed.

Rice spent much of his career as a zoologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and dedicated much of his time to surveying Ohio’s fishes. Meszaros, a retired teacher, has been photographing natural history for almost four decades.

Their pairing was the perfect combination to produce this outstanding book. Rice’s intimate knowledge of all aspects of the state’s fishes comes across in the text, and Meszaros’ incomparable photos provide visual pizazz.

Native Fishes of Ohio features 156 color photos spread throughout its pages. The images alone are worth the price. Paging through the book is like viewing the inhabitants of a sophisticated zoo’s aquarium, except that these denizens all occupy Ohio’s wild waters.

I won’t reveal photographic trade secrets, but a lot of knowledge and hard work — far beyond what is required of most photographic styles — goes into making images such as these. Seldom has a book featured such stunning photos of live fish.

The book pictures 124 species — including everything a person is likely to encounter, as well as many rarities. About 146 species are known to occur in the state, but those not pictured are so rare that few people would ever encounter them.

The book is divided into 11 chapters that break Ohio’s fishes into groups. Clever chapter subtitles pique interest, such as “Darters: A Rainbow of Colors” or “Catfish: Night Stalkers.”

Each chapter introduction gives a robust overview of the family or families in question, peppered with habitat information, status in Ohio and behaviors. Following the introduction, photos are captioned with statements about the fish.

Native Fishes of Ohio opens a portal to a fascinating subsurface world that few people know well. Even seasoned fishermen will be surprised at what lives beneath their boat. I highly recommend the book.

Naturalist Jim McCormac writes a biweekly column for The Dispatch. He also writes about nature at www.jimmccormac.blogspot.com.
Redside Dace, photo by Gary Meszaros


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.


So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…