Fish Slam - November 2017

Science Center Objects

The Hunt For The Southernmost Snakehead. Thirty-one fishery biologists from eleven agencies participated in a two-day Fish Slam event. Thirty-five sites in Broward and Miami-Dade counties were sampled for non-native fishes.

Fish Slam Day 1 sample sites (yellow dots) and location of positive snakehead eDNA sample (star).
Fish Slam Day 1 sample sites (yellow dots) and location of positive snakehead eDNA sample (star).

7-8 November 2017 – Thirty-one fishery biologists from eleven agencies participated in a two-day Fish Slam event. Thirty-five sites in Broward and Miami-Dade counties were sampled for non-native fishes. Sampling gear included electrofishing boats, backpack electrofisher, minnow traps, cast nets, seines, dipnets, and hook and line. Twenty species of non-native fishes were collected or observed. This is the 6th Fish Slam event since our program began in 2013. For general information on Fish Slam events, please see the webpage for our group, the Florida Non-native Fish Action Alliance.

USGS researchers are currently working on a project to detect bullseye snakehead Channa marulius with environmental DNA (eDNA). An assay was developed at the USGS genetics laboratory that allows researcher to detect the presence of snakehead DNA in water samples. While working on this project, researchers received an unexpected positive hit for snakehead eDNA on the L-67 Canal where it meets the Tamiami Canal (star on map, below). This location is approximately 53 km SW of the nearest known snakehead population. 

On the first day of Fish Slam, we focused on sampling for snakehead near the area where snakehead eDNA was first detected. Using electrofishing boats, eight teams focused their efforts on L-67 and Tamiami canals (see map, below). No snakehead were observed, likely due to high water levels in the canals. The canals were overflowing their banks into the surrounding marsh, making fishing conditions difficult. We will continue to follow-up with future sampling when water levels are lower.

Fish Slam Day 2 sample sites (yellow dots)
Fish Slam Day 2 sample sites (yellow dots)

A thriving population of non-native spotfin spiny eel (Macrognatus siamensis) was detected in the Tamiami Canal. This is the northern extent of the known range for this species, with previous detections of 2-5 individuals at a time in 2013 (USGS 2018). These are the first specimens from this location vouchered at the Florida Museum.

On Day 2, teams sampled canals L31W, C111, C113, and Snapper Creek as well as ponds (e.g., Fuch’s Pond) from south Miami to Homestead (Miami-Dade County). Twenty species of non-native fishes were observed or collected, including a particularly striking Oscar Astronotus ocellatus and a large pacu Piaractus brachypomus also called pirapitinga.

Researchers retained samples of non-native fishes to deposit in the Florida Museum, Gainesville, FL.

All native species, along with two non-native species (grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella and butterfly peacock bass Cichla ocellaris), were returned to the wild alive. All field observations of non-natives were entered into the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database.

The participants of the November 2017 Fish Slam were: Jesse Blanchard (FIU), Ken Blick (USFWS), Tony Brady (USFWS), Mary Brown (USGS), Wes Daniel (CNT), Allison Durland Donahue (UF), Erica Gallerani (NPS), John Galvez (USFWS), Kelly Gestring (FWC), Jeff Greenspan (UF), Daniel Hagood (Miccosukee Tribe), Howard Jelks (USGS), Jeff Kline (NPS), Jon Lane (USACE), Lauren Lamham (UF), Ralph LaPrairie (FWC), Zac Locklear (NPS), Bill Loftus (CNT), Tim Lyons (UF), Jordan Massie (FIU), Robert Muxo (NPS), Alora Myers (FIU), Mark Pepper (NPS), Kristen Reaver (CNT), Rob Robins (FM), Pam Schofield (USGS), Murray Stanford (FWC), Vanessa Trujillo (Deering Estate), Raul Urgelles (NPS), Natasha Viadero (FIU), and Kevin Whelan (NPS).

Non-native fish collected or observed during Fish Slam November 2017
Non-native fish collected or observed during Fish Slam November 2017

Institutional acronyms: CNT – Cherokee Nation Technologies; FIU – Florida International University; FM – Florida Museum; FWC – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; NPS – National Park Service; UF – University of Florida; USFWS – US Fish and Wildlife Service; USGS – US Geological Survey.

We are grateful to our professional colleagues who volunteered to make our Fish Slam successful. Special thanks to Barron Moody, FWC, for assistance with permits for this sampling event.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) (2018). Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database. U.S. Geological Survey, Gainesville, Florida. Available via http://nas.er.usgs.gov/. Accessed 6 Feb 2018