By Joe Reynolds
New York Harbor Nature Blog
You never know what you might find while taking a stroll along the shore. Flotsam and jetsam is not always pretty. Some days you might discover a strange looking fanged tooth skull.
The powerful late October coastal storm that slowly trekked across the Northeast, including New York Harbor, on Sunday and Monday morning gave rise to more than just a month's worth of rain in less than two days. The storm also provided at least one weird beach find.
While taking a walk along the edge of Sandy Hook Bay late in the day on Monday, I came across a toothy skull from the water’s depths. At first glance it looked like the facial remains of a strange, scary sea monster.
But have no fear! This was no missing link to a murder mystery or the remains of a deep-sea monster. Upon further study the skull was just an unfortunate leftover from a recent unknown fishing endeavor.
The brownish skull with spiky teeth in the sand was actually the bones of a bluefish. It looked a little extra creepy because the skull was missing its upper jaw.
The mouth of an adult living bluefish is large and has extremely sharp, ﬂattened, and triangular teeth. The lower jaw is sometimes slightly prominent with strong sharp teeth.
Bluefish, both adolescents and adults, are known for their sharp, fang-like teeth. They have some of the sharpest teeth of any fish along the northeast coast, like a snapping serrated knife. They have razor sharp teeth that can easily cut a finger.
Large numbers of bluefish are on the move now migrating south for the winter to the Carolinas, Florida and other southern waters. Various anglers around New York Harbor and along the northeast coast are catching bluefish before local coastal waters turn cold and the fish disappear. When a person catches a fish, she or he will often clean and gut the fish so remains or the meat can fit inside a cooler to keep it fresh. Fish heads are frequently cut off and discarded as waste. Over time, the flesh of the fish head will be eaten away and the skull and other bones will wash ashore to be found by curious beach walkers.
Thankfully fish heads are not something you’d typically see on a beach all the time. But with the fall run taking place now, the annual migration of striped bass, bluefish and other fish to the southern waters, anything can wash up including heads, tails, and other fishy body parts. Be aware.
Maybe instead of tossing fish heads, anglers should eat 'em up instead. Yum!
STOP THE WILLIAMS FRACKED GAS PIPELINE THROUGH NY HARBOR!
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT NY HARBOR
1. Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City by Leslie Day
2.Heartbeats in the Muck by John Waldman
3. The Fisheries of Raritan Bay by Clyde L. MacKenzie Jr.
4. Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate
5. The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell