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Here Fishy, Fishy

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Here Fishy, Fishy

Monday, April 2, 2018 - 4:16pm

On this episode, we examine how fish are unique to the animal world, we talk about some program activities that you can try out in your free time, and teach you how to catch some fish on your next park adventure!

Fish are very special animals! They live in water and have gills used for breathing the dissolved oxygen in the water. Their dorsal and anal fins help keep them in a steady, upright position as they move, the pectoral and pelvic fins help them maneuver and the caudal or tail fin is used to push them forward in the water. Their skin is covered in scales, which is the armor that helps to protect them from injury and disease. The scales are covered in a slime that helps the fish glide easily through the water. Fish also have a highly sensitive area called the “lateral line” running down the side of their bodies, allowing them to sense temperature and vibrations in the water. Fish come in many different shapes and sizes, depending upon how they feed. There are over 20,000 different species of fish in the world.

The picture above is a Gyotaku fish print. Gyotaku was invented by the Japanese in the mid 1800’s as a way of documenting the fish that were being caught far out at sea. You can create a Gyotaku print to create a permanent record of a recent catch, or to create a unique piece of artwork. To make a gyotaku, first you clean and dry the fish, then you paint the fish with block printing ink or acrylic paint and press a piece of rice paper on top of the fish and gently rub the paper. Slowly remove the paper to reveal the impression. You can also use fabric paint to create a one of a kind T-shirt.

How can we determine how old a fish is? A fish scale can be magnified to view the growth bands to determine the age of the fish, similar to aging a tree using the growth rings.
(Fish Scale)










We can also examine the otolith (inner ear bone) to determine its age by counting the layers of calcium carbonate. Scientists use this information to determine how fast the fish is growing, which is a good indicator of how healthy it is. 









Fish play a large part in the ocean’s food web, which starts with phytoplankton, sea grass and sea weed. These plants create organic carbon from sunlight and produce more than half of the oxygen that we breathe on Earth. Zooplankton, which are microscopic animals, feed on the phytoplankton. Small carnivores like sardines and herring feed on the zooplankton. The top predators of the marine food chain including the sharks and dolphins then feed on the small carnivores. The top predators live a long life and reproduce slowly. When top predator species are depleted, their numbers are slow to rebound, sending shock waves through the entire ocean food web. Each piece of the web depends on each other to maintain the balance.

Fishing is a challenging sport enjoyed by people of all ages. Fish taste good and are a great and healthy source of protein for people around the world. When fishing, please obey all size and bag limits. N.C. Wildlife and Division of Marine Fisheries have these limits in place to help fish populations remain sustainable for future generations. Using circle hooks is one way that you can return juvenile fish to the water unharmed.

Now get out there and have some fun fishing at your state parks!


An inviting trail at William B. Umstead State Park

William B. Umstead State Park

8801 Glenwood Avenue
RaleighNC 27617
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Latitude: 35.890500
Longitude: -78.750200

Park Hours:

The gate at the Crabtree Creek entrance will open at 7am daily as part of a pilot program to allow early access to the trails system. From March 15th through December 1st, the family campground gate will remain open an additional hour after the park closes so those campers have access in and out the park during that time. 

Crabtree Creek Entrance:
November-February: 7am - 6pm
March, April, September, October: 7am - 8pm
May - August: 7am - 9pm
Closed Christmas Day

Reedy Creek Entrance:
November - February: 8:00am - 6pm
March, April, September, October: 8:00am - 8pm
May - August: 8:00am - 9pm
Closed Christmas Day

William B. Umstead main park gates are closed and locked promptly at posted closing time. No entry or exit is permitted after this time except for law enforcement or medical emergencies.

Park Office/Visitor Center
8am - 5pm
Closed Christmas Day

Exhibit Hall
Located in the Visitor Center
January - December, 9am - 4:30pm
Closed Christmas Day

Boathouse (canoe and row boat rental)
Weekends, beginning the first weekend in May through September. 
Saturday & Sunday: 8:30am - 4:30pm (last boat goes out at 3:30pm).

Tent and Trailer Family Campground
Season of Operation: March 15th - December 1st