Saturday, August 9, 2008

Here's Something Fishy About This Week's Theme

Those PhotoHunters who have visited before may have noticed that I try to relate the weekly theme to the central subject of this blog which is the pond, its inhabitants and visitors, and the plant life and other creatures in the immediate vicinity around the pond. This week's theme of 'dark' presented a bit of a challenge as there aren't too many things around the pond that are dark. At least not ones which would make for interesting photographs.

A few days ago while feeding the fish it came to me. Now this one may require a bit of explanation, but here is the photo which was taken in the spring.


I know you are probably thinking 'OK. That is one big dark fish. What's the big deal?' Well, check out the bottom side or belly of the fish...


As you can see, it's not dark at all. In fact it is mostly white.Did you ever notice that the coloring of many fish follows this pattern? They are frequently dark on the top (back) and light on the bottom (belly). Well here is one reason for that.

The pattern provides a simple camouflage sometimes known as countershading. Many fish are the natural prey of other fish (and other predators) and they live in an environment where they can generally be attacked from any direction. If the predator is above them and looks down, then the fish more easily blends in with the dark colors of the deeper, darker water or the bottom. If the predator is below them and looks up then the fish tends to blend with brighter water and sky above. If the predator approaches from the side then the blend of light and dark tends to break the total silhouette against the background.


Interestingly this same camouflage can often provide the same benefit to the predator. If they are similarly marked when approaching from above or below they enjoy some of the same advantages making them less visible to their potential prey. Countershading as a camouflage is not restricted to fish. It can be found in other animals also, particularly birds.

By the way, for those who are wondering that is a catfish and a pretty good size one at that for such a small pond. And don't worry. Even though catfish is very tasty this one ended up being returned to the pond. Here you can see it rolling as it was put back in the water. In less than a minute it swam away. We frequently see a big catfish coming up in the shallow water and we think it may be the same one as it is unlikely there are many that size in the pond.





35 comments:

  1. That is one BIG fish for a small pond!! I am always fascinated by how well animals use camouflage. Somehow, we humans just don't seem to fit in with the natural environment.

    Thanks, Baker. Perhaps, should you find the time, the occasional posting on the different camouflages used by pond creatures???

    Hugs
    Avril

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  2. I can't believe that such a large fish hangs out in a small pond! And loved your commentary! Most interesting!

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  3. That's one huge catfish! A little Cajun seasoning and a hot frying pan would make him very yummy. [LOL]

    Mine's posted. Stop by if you can. You can see a dark sinister creature. [kidding of course] Have a super weekend.

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  4. wow...that is big fish :D

    My PH in here : my dark adventure Thanks

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  5. Great Catfish. I love the pond theme of your blog. Fantastic and informative.

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  6. Who knew? I did a lot of fishing in my younger days (including ice fishing I might add) and I never noticed the difference. But as I sit here and think back I can see it now. Great job!

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  7. Interesting! I always learn something over here!

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  8. Avril - You know I might just do that about the camouflage - Good idea

    Greyscale - I meant to post a recent photo of the catfish in the pond that we think may be the same one - I just saw him/her yesterday

    Hootin'Annie - That one could just about feed a family, lol

    juliana - Yep - He was a big one - Funny thing is I wasn't fishing for catfish at the time

    Heather - The pond is what it is all about, lol

    Ladykli - Nature is pretty cool - There's always something right before us that we don't really see until we stop and think about it

    rdl - We always try to amuse and inform, lol - always good to see you drop by

    To all of you, thanks so much for the visit and kind comments. They are much appreciated.

    Baker

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  9. Wow... some cool shots and interesting commentary to go with! Nice!

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  10. Countershading. I've never heard of that, but it makes a lot of sense. I think catfish are rather prehistoric looking fish.

    I went with a dark creature for this theme too. Have a good weekend!

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  11. Baker, I simply love what you do here. You have taken a pond and made it larger than it really is, and not only that, you've made it even more interesting and informative.

    Really makes me want to leave the city...

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  12. Great shot for dark. Just wondering, is your pond natural or man-made? It seems to have a nice community.

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  13. Your entry is dark indeed! Love the photos you had...Have a great weekend! Oh! let me share this quotation, " Life is like a box of chocolates, you'll never know what you gonna get "... Sounds familiar right? Its from Forest Gump Movie- So, enjoy life, take it easy and savor the time you been down..Keep moving 'cause life is precious...God Bless..c",)

    Mine at Ph: Dark

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  14. What a fabulous fish...and so big....I am so glad you didn't eat him...yes I am a softie.....

    I love the facts you uploaded....things I have never even given a thought ....now If someone ever asks me, I have an explanation.....

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  15. Glad you let him go!
    Enjoyed looking at your blog. Nice photos!!

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  16. Tokenhippygirl - We always like to try to give a little extra info, lol

    Annie - They are sort of prehistoric aren't they - and different from most other common fresh water fish with their lack of scales

    Wayne - Hey buddy - I think one thing I really like about the pond is its small size - Small enough to easily walk around but large enough to always deliver something new and interesting if one takes the time to observe

    brine queen - It's man-made but has evolved into an interesting habitat over time - Actually I recently made a post that explains it a bit about it here. It is mostly about dragonflies and damselflies but I think it can apply to other wildlife in and around the pond.

    http://fishandfrog-turtleandblog.blogspot.com/2008/05/monday-dragon-and-damsel-report-singles.html

    WilStop - Thanks for stopping by - That was an interesting dark room perspective in your theme post

    Cheryl - Why wait for someone to ask, lol - I'm sure you can eventually gently work it into a conversation under the right circumstances. You will instantly be recognized as an authority on fish and natural camouflage by your friends and acquaintances. And if you tell 2-3 people you will probably remember the fact for a long, long time, lol.

    Cats-Goats-Quotes - Ahh - Another softie like Cheryl above. I'm glad I thought to add that release photo, lol.

    To all of you, thanks so much for the visit and kind comments.

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  17. That is a big fish! And a very interesting explanation that makes perfect sense. Thank you.

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  18. Cool that they are white on the bottom. I've caught a few but never really noticed that. They also can make a lot of noise! Like a barking sound. We threw all ours back. But once we did want to taste it so we cooked one up. My sister loved it!

    Mine's up HERE if you get a chance to stop by :)

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  19. What a great explanation. So succinctly put.

    Thank you for the kind comment on my Dark Vader post.

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  20. Excellent explanation of the dark top light bottom phenomenon of fish. I used to teach the same thing when I did an oceanography unit for my Grade 4s.

    You are welcome to pop over to see my dark post. :D

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  21. Hi Baker..that is some big fish. It makes me wonder if the very large fish that we see are catfish. And thank you for the information as I didn't know that at all...Michelle

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  22. Excellent description, you have a neat blog here,very interesting. Nice photos also.

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  23. So....I learned something today. Thanks! And yes, camouflaging is a pretty interesting subject.

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  24. Oh my what a huge cat fish..I am sorry to say that the photo I would have taken would have been of that big guy frying in my dark cast iron skillet. Great photos and interesting information.
    Thanks!

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  25. Heather B - Thanks for dropping by

    Liz - maybe you could have caught him with those 'fishnets' in your theme post, lol

    Sue - We could have cooked him up on that campfire you had

    David - Thanks for the kind words - It's always a pleasure to have you drop by

    Leslie - I'm sure many of us were exposed to the camouflage tactics in our early years. Sometimes we just have to wait for life's experiences so we can appreciate such information.

    Michelle - I guess they could be catfish but someone would have had to stock the pond at some time I would think. They don't tend to reproduce well in man-made ponds unless they are provided good structure for reproducing.

    Floyd - Thanks for the comments - Come back for a visit any time

    mama meji - Glad you liked the little nature lesson

    patty - Well I think that makes the votes about even - A few were glad it went back into the pond and a few could see it frying in the pan (with some cajun spices according to Hootin'Anni)

    Thanks to one and all for the visit and kind comments.

    Baker

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  26. What a delightful blog! I find your pond absolutely fascinating!!

    Thanks for dropping by my spot.

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  27. i haven't seen or tasted that kind of fish. I guess they don't breed in my side of the globe. hehehe.

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  28. What a great take on the "dark" theme! I really enjoyed reading about the camouflaging of the catfish. I didn't know that they are white on the belly side. I think that I always focused on those whiskers!

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  29. sandy - thanks for dropping by and the kind comments - and I'll be using that kite story for sure, lol

    cating- that is a channel catfish and is common in most of North America in lakes, ponds, and rivers - it is often stocked in smaller ponds and lakes as a good game fish - actually catfish in general are rather widespread across the globe but many look much different from this one - I think there are over 2500 species and some are really big, especially those found in rivers

    sammawow - those whiskers have smell sensing capabilities and the catfish uses them to search out food

    Thanks to all for the visit and comments.

    Baker

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  30. I always love learning new facts about fish. Great take on the dark theme.

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  31. inland empire girl - thanks for dropping by - glad you enjoyed the post

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  32. This is a very interesting observation and so true, thanks for the insight.

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  33. ginger - thanks for the visit and comments - I always have to remind myself that most things in nature have specific reasons for being the way they are whether it be color, size, shape, or whatever. It is nearly always because of some outside influence. And of course it is often related to the predator-prey relationships.

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  34. I'm just thinkin' what GOOD EATIN' that guy woulda been! Did ya HAVE to throw him back? LOL! He was a very nice lookin' catfish!

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Thanks for stopping by to visit our little pond. We would love to see you again real soon.