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It is Valentine’s Day and Love is in . . . the Water?

I am a fisheries biologist by training, and well, it could be said that many of us look at the world in a warped way.  For example, today is “Valentine’s Day”, the day to celebrate love.  But, why is Valentine’s Day in February?????  What makes the middle of February more “lovey”?  Or, would it be “lovely”?  “Loveful”?  “Loving”?  Whatever?

Anyway, I have postulated that the only logic in having Valentine’s Day in February is that it is in the middle of the striped skunk mating season, and we all know that Pepe Le Pew, a skunk, was the greatest amoureux of all time (Happy Valentine’s Day, Skunk Spawn).

However, this Valentine’s Day I have discovered new information in one of my recent issues of In-Fisherman.  Maybe the timing of Valentine’s Day is not about the skunks at all, maybe it is about the fish!

OK, so what fish spawn in February?  Well there is one, the burbot.

Burbot are a member of the cod family, the only freshwater member of that family.  They are native to Nebraska’s Missouri River, but were a lot more common when the river was unchannelized and un-dammed.  They are a cold-water fish that aggregate to spawn under the ice, in February.  I have never had the opportunity to catch a burbot through an ice-hole, but would love to someday, maybe on a future Valentine’s Day?

We do not think of fish making sounds or communicating by sound but it is actually more common than you would think.  Burbot are one of those species, and recent research idicates the communication is done to attract mates and spawn.  So, in the burbot world, February 14 is a noisy day!

What do they sound like?

Take some time and listen to this audio clip, if you are impatient, skip ahead to about the three minute mark where the discussion starts on burbot sounds.  If you are a fish-head type, don’t skip a thing, even though this is a Minnesota/Great Lakes audio clip if you listen to it all, I promise you will learn something.

Happy Valentine’s Day, “Vroom, Vroom”!

Wikimedia Commons image.

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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