Call them spotted seatrout, speckled trout, or even specks; whatever name you choose to call them, know they are important fish, both to the environment and the economy. Spotted seatrout live in coastal estuaries of the northern Gulf of Mexico. They, along with other estuarine species, were exposed to varying amounts of oil soon after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Since the spill, researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Lab (GCRL) Toxicology Research Center have been trying to better understand what physical effects the oil and chemical dispersants may have had on these important fish.
Classroom Activity: How old is that fish?
Did you know scientists can tell how old a fish is by looking at its otoliths or “earstones” and counting the rings? Similar to tree rings, fish otoliths have layers that can be counted to determine age. In this activity, students will learn what otoliths are, why they are important to a fish and how scientists can study them to learn more about the life of a fish. Students can also play an interactive game to examine otoliths and age fish.
Impacts of Oil on Spotted Seatrout – PDF 1MB