Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The Hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus) in the images taken by Brad Dalton was caught at the Francis Beidler Forest during fish surveying conducted by past seasonal naturalist Matt Stone, staff from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and Brad Dalton. The origin of the name "hogchoker" is said to be due to hogs that "feed on fish discarded on the beaches, have great difficulty in swallowing this sole, because of the extremely hard, rough scales." --Hildebrand and Schroeder, Bull. U. S. Bur. Fish., vol. 43, Pt. 1, 1928, p. 177.

The fish were collected using a process of electroshocking with a backpack unit for channels and a boat-mounted unit for deeper water. A wand placed in the water emits an electric current which attracts the fish. Once the fish are close enough, the electric current will stun and immoblize the fish. The fish float to the surface and are collected by a trailing individual with a net. The fish are identified and then released back into the swamp. The staff members from DNR were operating the electroshocking equipment as the incorrect current could kill the fish or injure people standing in the water.

The Hogchoker is a marine fish that ventures into brackish and fresh water. The hogchoker in the image was captured 13 miles from the Edisto River and approximatley 57 miles from the Atlantic Ocean! Unlike rays, which are compressed horizontally (top to bottom) and are symetrical (left to right), Hogchokers are compressed laterally (left to right) and do not look symetrical when lying on the bottom. They are a right-sided fish, since the right side of the fish is the side facing up. They are nocturnal, spending the day hidden on the bottom, and feed on macroinvertebrates and possibly algae using the small mouth located on the bottom of their body. Their small size keeps them from being fished commercially.

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