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Home » Fish

Scientists discover new species of bass in Florida

Submitted by on May 10, 2013 – 8:22 amNo Comment |
FWC scientists caught this Choctaw bass, a previously unidentified black bass species, during sampling in Holmes Creek in the Panhandle.  FWC photo

FWC scientists caught this Choctaw bass, a previously unidentified black bass species, during sampling in Holmes Creek in the Panhandle. FWC photo

Meet the new bass, not the same as the spotted bass. The “Choctaw bass” has now been revealed. Florida scientists have discovered the new species of black bass in the southeastern United States, publicly announcing the discovery today.

Researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have proposed naming the new species the Choctaw bass and recommended the scientific name of Micropterus haiaka.

FWC researchers revealed their discovery earlier this year at a meeting of the Southern Division of the American Fisheries.

The FWC scientists first discovered the fish had a DNA profile different from any recognized species while testing a fish from the Chipola River in 2007, as part of a broader study of bass genetics.

“We didn’t set out to find a new species,” Mike Tringali, who heads the genetics laboratory at the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, said in a press release. “It found us.”

After confirming the initial discovery, scientists searched for the DNA profile in bass caught in nearby rivers to determine the bass’ range. They found the Choctaw bass in coastal rivers in Alabama and along the western Florida panhandle, including the Choctawhatchee River.

“We chose the name ‘Choctaw bass’ because the species’ range overlaps the historic range of the Choctaw Indians,” said Tringali. “As for our recommended scientific name, Micropterus haiaka, ‘haiaka’ is a Choctaw word that means ‘revealed.’ ”

The American Fisheries Society must first approve the suggested scientific name for it to become official.

The Choctaw bass looks like its relative, the spotted bass. The differences between the two are not easily discerned with the naked eye. That’s one reason the two had never before been distinguished, despite decades of bass studies in the region.

Source: Florida Today

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