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Alligator gar in saltwater?


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#1 Betta132

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Posted 12 August 2015 - 04:11 PM

I was recently in Galveston with a marine biology camp, and everyone went fishing in a boat basin in the evenings. The usual catch was pinfish, with the occasional croaker or piggy perch, maybe a seatrout if someone was really lucky. Thanks to that, nobody had heavy line, and quite a few people regretted it. 

It was about an hour until sunset when all the kids on one side started yelling about a huge fish. When everyone went to look, there was an alligator gar cruising right up along the dock. It was probably about four feet long, with very dark coloration, multiple scars (possibly from propellers) on its head, a lure (no visible line) hanging from its jaw, and half a dozen inch-long pilotfish following it. It looked very calm, and probably would have hung around for pictures, but one of the kids threw a castnet at it. I'm not sure what he meant to accomplish, the gar was longer than the net, but a weight slapped the gar and it darted off into the murk. Everyone got a very good look at it, though, it had been right up under the surface. There was no way that was anything other than an alligator gar. 

About ten minutes after that, one kid put an entire frozen shrimp on his hook and chucked it in. Almost immediately, his pole bent over like he'd caught it on a reef, but the line was moving- and then it snapped. Evidently the gar was hanging around, and he stole several more baits before it got dark. Nobody managed to catch him, of course, and he didn't surface again. 

My question is this: what was an alligator gar doing in a boat basin? There weren't any large rivers anywhere near there, he was in full-strength saltwater, but he seemed perfectly fine. 

Also, I talked to some fishermen on a different dock who claimed they'd caught gator gar before, in saltwater. Is this something that happens on a regular basis, or has our recent absurd level of rain washed them down out of rivers? 



#2 Matt DeLaVega

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Posted 12 August 2015 - 04:29 PM

I believe if I recall correctly that alligator gar are often in full salt. I am pretty sure this is normal. They don't however stray far out as they still rely on freshwater to spawn, and are not anadromous. They are just tough enough that the salt does not bother them.


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#3 Matt DeLaVega

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Posted 12 August 2015 - 04:31 PM

And it may have been any fish breaking the lines. Not sure I would put it all on the gar.


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#4 Betta132

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Posted 12 August 2015 - 06:22 PM

They were using 20-pound line, and whatever kept stealing the bait would snap it in two seconds or less. If it wasn't the gar, it was something else very large, and this was in a sort of artificial bay that I'm told rarely has anything big. 

 

There are a lot of brackish marshes in that area. If gator gar are tough enough to not care about full saltwater, I wonder if they'd possibly be able to breed in brackish water. 



#5 don212

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Posted 13 August 2015 - 09:34 PM

i've seen them in salt marsh near homosassa fl, well large gar not sure of species



#6 Mysteryman

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Posted 02 September 2015 - 09:39 PM

At the Gulfarium we used to have a huge Gator gar in a huge fullstrength saltwater tank. It knocked out one of the divers once, resulting in a mad scrambling rescue! POW!

So, yeah.. saltwater is no problem for them. I doubt they'd spawn in it, though.



#7 Betta132

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Posted 02 September 2015 - 10:35 PM

Why did the gar knock a diver out? I've always heard that alligator gar are fairly docile.

It would be kind of interesting to stock a pair of gator gar in a huge saltwater tank and see if they breed. I doubt anyone's managed to run a study on it. 


Edited by Betta132, 02 September 2015 - 10:37 PM.


#8 Moontanman

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 07:23 AM

Gar hang out in salt water boat basins here routinely, We don't have alligator gar but the ones that hang around are big and mean looking.. 


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#9 don212

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 08:36 AM

this gar thing has me bewildered, i thought salt water fish could go fresh, but not vice versa, how do they eliminate salt?



#10 Mrfipp

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Posted 06 September 2015 - 11:39 PM

this gar thing has me bewildered, i thought salt water fish could go fresh, but not vice versa, how do they eliminate salt?


Most saltwater fish can not go fresh, just as most freshwater fish can not go salt. There are few exceptions from either water source that can actually regulate their salt levels and do just fine for quite extended time periods in both 'types' of water. Bull sharks are the most noted to my knowledge.

There's something fishy about this place...


#11 Betta132

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Posted 07 September 2015 - 01:10 AM

Bull sharks are ridiculous beasties who happily breed far upriver despite being saltwater. 

Sharks (and I think all saltwater fish) have a gland that helps them expel excess salt from their body. Gator gar are found in swampy areas sometimes, and I know they live in Florida, and a lot of swampy areas in Florida have at least some amount of salt... I really don't know for certain, but perhaps gator gar just have a really well-developed salt-removal gland (forgot the technical name) that allows them to be adaptable? 

Anyone in here know enough about gator gar to tell me if my theory makes sense at all?



#12 Michael Wolfe

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Posted 07 September 2015 - 06:39 AM

I tweeted out to Dr. Solomon David (am absolute gar expert and NANFA member... but not a member here on the forum)... maybe we can get him to respond and give us more info.  He is actually having a similar conversation on twitter... if you can call those conversations.


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#13 Matt DeLaVega

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Posted 07 September 2015 - 08:04 AM

That was a great idea. Solomon will know for sure.

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#14 Irate Mormon

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 03:40 PM

Osmoregulation in fishes is controlled by chloride cells in the gills. There is not a "gland" that I know of. 


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#15 Betta132

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 04:00 PM

Then it must be just sharks that have the salt-excreting rectal glands. I couldn't remember for certain. 



#16 Matt DeLaVega

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 05:57 PM

Think it is crocodilians, but I am not sure.


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