Friday, May 25, 2007

Longnose Gar

Look what may soon be on the alligator's menu! The images show an adult and approximately 20 young Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus) in Goodsen Lake at the end of the boardwalk at the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest. Their many teeth, bony jaw, and hard scales make them difficult for an angler to catch, but their defenses are no match for the crushing power of the alligator's jaws.

Longnose Gar are aggressive predators feeding almost entirely on fish, which are concentrated in deep holes like Goodsen Lake as the lack of rain and evaporation cause the water level to drop throughout the swamp. The young gar shown in the image hatched from big, bright green eggs about a week after the female laid them in the water clouded by milt from up to 15 male gar. The young gar look like sticks floating in the water under the overhanging branch.

Anyone that has been near a body of water containing Longnose Gar has heard the fish violently break the surface. In addition to breathing in the water with its gills, Longnose Gar can gulp oxygen from the atmosphere. In fact, they can live many hours out of water as long as their bodies are kept moist.

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