We took a trip out to the edge of the continental shelf over the past few days, and had any number of fun and exciting experiences. We’ll be writing about some of these over the next few days to keep from getting too long winded in any single post. Besides, there is a lot to assemble to get things well put together.
But just as tempting taste of what’s to come… Tilefish and Dolphins and Whales, Oh My!
At the end of our last post a few days ago, I requested help on identifying a noise we regularly hear in the boat. A noise we assumed came from a fish, but couldn’t be 100% sure. We would typically hear it shortly after dark. The following sample was recorded with an underwater microphone, and is clearer than what we hear inside the boat. What we hear is almost as loud as a quiet conversation.
Without hearing a sample of the sound, only reading my description, my friend Gary, (aka the “Fish Nerd”) suggested a member of the grunt family. A good guess, certainly many of the grunts make a similar noise, but in this case not right. Dennis from the sailboat Ferrity had the right answer: A striped cusk eel.
Now, there are about 250 species of cusk eels, and they range from the very deepest parts of the ocean to the shallows. I had never had much reason to pay attention to them, but strangely enough, two days after being introduced to them as the source of our mystery noise, I managed to hook one on the bottom almost 500 feet deep in the Baltimore Canyon!
No, they aren’t very big, or pretty. Also strangely soft. It was like holding a small bag of mashed potatoes. While this is (almost) surely a different species of cusk eel and not the striped cusk eel we hear inshore, it is still a strange coincidence!
If you really need to know more, you can go to this website by someone with a superhuman interest in fish sounds: