NANFA-- Noturus toxicity, etc.

Dave Neely (
Sat, 11 Dec 1999 19:05:12 CST

Sorry I've been quiet of late. It's been a crazy week. That aside,
given the recent interest in fish-induced injuries, I took the time to
re-read Birkhead (1972. Toxicity of stings of ariid and ictalurid catfishes.
Copeia 1972:790-807). This dude injected venom extracts from several species
of catfish into Gambusia to examine effects. Noturis exilis and Ameiurus
melas were usually lethal to the Gambusia within 24h. Ameiurus natalis,
Noturus gyrinus, N. nocturnis, N. flavus, and N. placidus were relatively
toxic; Ictalurus punctatus, A. nebulosus, and N. albater less so, and
Noturus leptacanthus and Pylodictis were not considered toxic. For a whole
host of reasons I won't bore everybody with here, the study is faulted, but
from personal experience, Noturus leptacanthus certainly has some doggone
virulent stuff. Ouch. I can vouch for N. gyrinus, also.

I did a little project on Noturus munitus last year that should get
submitted for publication soon, during which I found that blowing on the
lateral line is the best way to accurately count pores on preserved
specimens. I also began using jeweler's magnifiers to take counts- they're
easier to get quick measurements/counts than under a scope, but they leave a
blind spot in one's vision. Anyway, late one evening, I leaned in to blow on
a madtom and jammed a pectoral spine deep into my lower lip. I (luckily)
resisted the urge to try and yank it out. It was in about halfway up the
spine (6-8 recurved spines). Amazingly, it wasn't bleeding too bad. I
thought about going to the campus medical center, but decided against it.
Too humiliating. When I walked into the bathroom and tried to work the spine
out, it started to bleed. Profusely. It took about 20 minutes of working the
skin over each barb with a pair of forceps to get it free, and 45 minutes
with a wet teabag on my lip to stop the bleeding. No more madtom
projects... at least the preopercular spines on sculpins don't stick when
you jab yourself.

Bruce Stallsmith and I got to do some collecting last week- I'd been trying
to get fish for a new science/education center in Birmingham, and had been
running gill nets for big river stuff like buffalo and drum. An outboard
malfunction left us with only a canoe to check nets, so Bruce and I opted to
do some Coastal Plain canoe shocking afterwards. A very successful trip
ensued, with two large bowfin and a large spotted gar captured, plus a bunch
of various centrarchids. I somehow lost track of time and was late to
administer a biology final exam, but it was well worth it. Next time I'll
try and give some advance notice, and see whether we can finally arrange an
AL/MS regional trip.


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