Tropicals Are Showing Up And Some Are Freaky Looking

Juvenile lookdown fish close up of head

We get a lot of tropicals when they move up with the gulf stream, many are showing up early this year..  They follow the warm water of the gulf stream and get pushed to shore with easterly winds.  In the summer time you can run seine nets and find all kinds of gulf tropical fish.  Angelfish, butterflies, groupers, just to name a few.  These lookdown fish are ones we often see, but the juveniles look much different from the parents.

This juvenile lookdown was found washed up on the beach Saturday afternoon at 3Rs.  It was released back into the water when they realized it was still alive.   Lookdowns are silver in color, like a shiny mirror.  Their scientific name is Selene vomer, it they are a member of the large jack family.  Selene, the genus name, means “moon” in Greek, a perfect description since it shines like the silvery moon.

Juvenile lookdown fish dorsal fin filaments
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The young have long filaments on their dorsal and anal fins and look nothing like the adults.  They spend their days near floating weeds or sargassum to feed on zooplankton until they are old enough to return to the sandy bottoms and mud bottoms.  They do not gather on structure, but prefer open water in small Schools.

lookdown fish, delaware, sussex county
Juvenile lookdown fish anal fin filaments

Lookdowns are good to eat but filleting them is a challenge only for the skilled with a filet knife.  An electric filet knife will just make a mushy mess out of them.  The largest on record (IGFA) is a little over four pounds caught in 2004 in Florida.

We catch Lookdowns a lot in crab traps around the inland bays in August.  It is early this year to see one of these, but it has been a weird year for fishing, especially catching.

Fish On!
Rich King

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