F I S H C O U N T I N G M A T R I X
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How to use the Fish Counting Matrix to learn even more about Ospreys:
The livechat moderators will be collecting info from the LiveChat archive on an ongoing basis (usually daily) during the season. On a regular basis, they will update the fish catch data and the entire logged catch info for the season will then become visible and downloadable for data analysis by everyone, including for classes, scientists, naturalists, and others.
With an ever-accumulating running data set, it’s possible to put on our thinking caps and learn much more. We encourage everyone to learn by calculating ratios and percentages, graphing findings, and study the data to find patterns and draw conclusions from the numbers. Here are some relevant research questions you can apply to this data set…
- Can you/your class determine what ratio or percentage of fish brought to the nest were brought by Richmond (male) or the Rosie (female) Osprey? Can you explain any disparity you notice in number of fish each adult Osprey brought home?
- Can you tell us what was the most common fish species caught in April? How about in May, or in June? Why might the typical catch be different in different months?
- How many times per day does an Osprey bring in a fish?
- Does the number of fish deliveries increase when there are nestlings to feed? By how much, on average?
- Can you tell us how frequently, on average, a manmade object was brought to the nest? Can you think of ways that all of us can help make life safer for Ospreys who share our shorelines with us?
- If your class is working with data and doing projects on this topic, let us know. Perhaps we might choose to highlight your intriguing scientific findings in a social media post!
Can you help us take note of what Richmond & Rosie bring home?
We’re inviting all fans of the SFBayOspreys to help us identify WHAT Richmond and Rosie are bringing back to the nest. We’re hoping this data will provide us all with a better understanding of our Ospreys and shed light on ways that we all can help to protect these magnificent birds and other Bay wildlife in their ecosystem. Based on informal sightings of fish caught in our first season, we’ve chosen a shortlist of likely fish that you may see either Richmond or Rosie bring back to feed themselves or their young.
We’d like you to tell us what you see by noting the specific time of ARRIVAL of the fish (timestamp on the screen), which Osprey first brought it to their nest (see FAQ page for telling Richmond & Rosie apart), WHAT was brought, and any notes about the catch such as: whole fish, headless fish. When you see a fish brought in, please report these comments on the LiveChat, and include a screen capture if you can. The person who is the first to report the most fish accurately will win a prize at the end of the season.
While there are myriad species of fish in our SF Bay, we’re only asking for your help to identify a very small subset of what’s out there. If the fish you observe on the livestream, is NOT one of these fish species, please comment as OTHER FISH and add notes that might help, such as “shaped like a Surf Perch but was solid black in color”.
Lastly, and importantly, if what Richmond or Rosie bring to the nest is not a fish AT ALL, please report that PROMPTLY as well, on the LiveChat with the timestamp of arrival from the livestream and a screen capture. Ospreys collect and bring many man made items which could be harmful, such as (monofilament) fishing line, netting, plastics like straws and forks. We definitely want to know about these Items and precise time of arrival (from timestamps), too.
Here are the target fish for this exciting adventure in Citizen Science Fish I.D.
(Copyright for the fish illustrations and accompanying natural history below belongs to Val Kells. To discover hundreds more fish species found in our region, we recommend her book, A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes from Alaska to California, published in 2016.)
Striped Bass - Morone saxatilis
Length: to 6 feet
Key Features: Greenish gray with iridescent reflections dorsally. Sides silvery with 6–9 narrow black stripes. Abdomen silvery white.
Flesh color: Warmer colored, more cream to rose in hue. Color is variable due to diet, condition, and the presence of blood.
Habitat: Barkley Sound, B.C., to just south of the US-Mexico border. Found in rivers, estuaries, bays, along beaches, and in nearshore waters. Also landlocked in lakes and reservoirs.
Ecology: Adult Striped Bass spawn in fresh water. After hatching, juveniles move to brackish then saltwater where they feed on a wide variety of invertebrates. Adults feed largely on other fishes.
NOTE: Striped Bass were introduced from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific and many landlocked locations.
Starry Flounder - Platichthys stellatus
Length: to 3 feet
Key Features: Eyed side shades of tan, brown, olive or black with irregular spots and blotches. May appear uniformly colored. Dorsal and anal fins with alternating pale and dark bars. Blind side white or with some dark blotches. Body and fins form flattened diamond shape.
Habitat: Beaufort Sea to Los Angeles Harbor, CA. Occur on or near soft and mixed bottoms from intertidal zone to about 1,970 feet. Occasionally swim to the surface. Also found in brackish water, and sometimes enter rivers.
Ecology: Prey on a wide range of invertebrates and fishes. Predators include sharks, large bony fishes, seabirds, and marine mammals. Can live to 42 years.
California Halibut - Paralichthys californicus
Length: to 5 feet
Key Features: Eyed side shades of brown, gray, or tan to olive with vague to distinct darker mottling and eye spots. Blind side usually white. Body deep and flattened.
Habitat: Quillayute River, WA, to southern Baja California. Usually bottom dwelling over soft bottoms or near structure from surf zone to about 920 feet. Also in bays and estuaries.
Ecology: Young feed mostly on crustaceans and fishes. Adults feed more on fishes. Preyed upon by sharks, large bony fishes, seabirds, and marine mammals.
Pacific Herring - Clupea pallasii
Length: to 18 inches
Key Features: Bluish to greenish dorsally, silvery on sides and below. Sides lack spots. Eyes large. Body elongate and slender.
Habitat: Found form Arctic Alaska to northern Baja California. Occur along the coast and offshore from the water’s surface to about 820 feet.
Ecology: May form very large schools. Enter estuaries during spawning. Feed on a wide range of planktonic invertebrates and fishes. Rich in protein and fat, Pacific Herring are an important prey item for larger fishes and numerous seabird and marine mammal species.
Jacksmelt - Atherinopsis californiensis
Length: to 19 inches
Key Features: Bluish green dorsally, silvery below. Sides with a bright silver stripe. Golden blotch on cheeks. Snout pointed, mouth and eyes small.
Flesh color: Blue-grey. Color is variable due to diet, condition, and the presence of blood.
Habitat: Yaquina Bay, OR, to southern Baja California. Found from surface to about 95 feet, and and from surf zone to about three miles offshore. Also in estuaries.
Ecology: Form schools, often near kelp and other structure. Feed on invertebrates, algae, polychaetes, and small fishes. Preyed upon by larger fishes (including Striped Bass), seabirds, and marine mammals.
Calico Surfperch - Amphistichus koelzi
Length: to 12 inches
Key Features: Silvery to brassy with brownish to greenish spots that form broken bars or clusters on sides. Some lack spots. Snout short, mouth very small. Body very deep, humped on back.
Habitat: Cape Flattery, WA, to northern Baja California. Usually occur in sandy surf along the open coast. Also found over eelgrass in more protected waters.
Ecology: Feed on amphipods, sand crabs, and shrimps. Can live to six years old. Females give birth to live young.
Rubberlip Seaperch - Rhacochilus toxotes
Length:to 18.5 inches
Key Features: Color varies. Iridescent brassy, brown, olivaceous or black to golden or silvery on back and sides. Pinkish, purplish, silvery or golden on abdomen. Mouth with thick pinkish lips. Body oval in shape.
Habitat: Mendocino County, CA, to southern Baja California. Occur mostly along open coast over a wide variety of bottoms from surf zone to about 165 feet. Also in quiet bays and occasionally in brackish water.
Ecology: Feed primarily at night on a wide range of invertebrates that they may pry from hard structures. Females give birth to live young.
Length: to 16 inches
Key features: Grayish brown to blackish with a metallic sheen dorsally. Pale to white below. Fins unmarked. Jaws wide and gaping. Head broad and flattened. Rows of photophores on scaleless head and body.
Habitat: Southern British Colombia to southern Baja California. Found near bottom from intertidal zone to about 1,250 feet
Ecology: The Midshipman is so named for the rows of photophores that resemble rows of buttons on a sailor's uniform.Spawning takes place in spring. Males excavate nests, and attract females by contracting the air bladder to create drumming, croaking, and grunting sounds. Males will then aerate and defend one or multiple broods of eggs until hatching.
Miscellaneous – Manmade objects & other oddities
Monofilament Fishing Line (esp. wads or looped strands)
Netting (fish net fragments or erosion control netting)
Plastics (drinking straws, plastic forks, bags. etc.)
Dead bird/bird parts: Ospreys do not kill nor eat birds! However, they will use found dead birds, especially their feathers as nesting soft nesting material for their nest. This season a part of a dead Crow and the mantle of a deceased sub-adult Gull, probably scavenged from the shoreline were brought home and became part of the nest. Here’s a photo of the nest from the 2017 season with the nestlings plus four manmade objects collected by the parent Ospreys visible. All items were potentially hazardous for the family of Ospreys, but only one earned a nickname and became famous, instead.