Other Saltwater Fish General
Many other species of saltwater fish that are mostly unrelated are harvested by coastal cultures, including among others, the huge and awkward ocean sunfish, large bass species, and smaller perch species.
Coast Salish, Kootenai, Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) (Northern, Central and Vancouver Island), Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw), Bella Coola (Nuxalk), Kyuquot and Koskimo are reported to have eaten perch [1-13].
The Nootka of Vancouver Island are reported to have caught Pacific ocean perch in late summer and fall, while the Northern and Central Nootka caught ocean perch during late summer [4, 7]. Traps were usually used to catch perch, but spears and trollers were also used [3, 4, 7, 10, 12]. The Northern and Central Nootka caught ocean perch using baited rectangular-shaped tidewater perch traps connected to a float; they checked them at low tide to retrieve the catch and replace the bait. They also used stone weirs, which they placed in front of a shallow creek mouth, leaving a small entrance. When the tide turned, they shut the entrance with branches. They also built drives; some men made a line of canoes across a bay and pushed the perch into a cluster using large fir branches weighted with stones. Once clustered, they scooped them with herring scoop nets or herring rakes . The Kwakiutl used baited traps placed on the beach, which at high tide became submerged and caught perch. When the water receded, the trap lay once again on the beach, and the fisher checked to see if there were any fish caught in the trap. If there were fish, he removed them, replaced the bait, placed hemlock branches on top of the trap to darken it and placed four medium stones on top to keep the trap underwater when the tide came in. Broken clam shells could be used as bait . The Nootka of Vancouver Island caught them with globular baskets baited with cracked mussels. In late summer when ocean perch schooled in coves, they forced them to shore using a line of weighted fir branches lowered from canoes, scooping them out with herring rakes and dip nets . The Samish caught ocean perch using a dip net. The Lummi, a Coast Straits Salish culture, caught ocean perch with a two-pronged spear . The Kyuquot caught ocean perch with trollers .
Ocean perch was prepared boiled, roasted and dried . The Kwakiutl and Koskimo boiled the fish; Koskimo also roasted it. The Kwakiutl wife is reported to have severed and discarded the gills and intestines, scaled the carcass, cut it in pieces crosswise and boiled the perch in a kettle for about thirty minutes. It was eaten with spoons directly from the kettle, starting with the backbone and ribs. The head, eyes and brains were eaten last with the bones thrown in the fire. Finally, they ate the remaining flesh and liquid using the spoons . The Koskimo boiled ocean perch. The gills and intestines were removed, the carcass scaled, the stomach and guts removed. The whole fish, stomach, intestines and gills were placed in a kettle and boiled. A rib strainer removed the whole fish to an individual dish. The male host gave spoons to each guest and poured the broth into each dish until nearly full and placed the kettle containing the gill, stomach and intestines near the door. Men consumed the broth, stomach, gill and intestines with the spoons. When roasting whole perch, the intestines, gills and scales were not removed. Once roasted, the fish was lifted with tongs, placed on a food mat, and the scales scraped off with a cedar stick. The flesh was taken using one’s fingers . The Nootka used ocean perch as bait, particularly for cod [4, 7].
Sablefish, also referred to as black cod, is reported to have been eaten by the Makah, Coast Salish, Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw), Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth), Haida, People of Port Simpson (Tsimshian), Tlingit, St. Lawrence Island Yupik [2, 3, 7, 14-22].
Sablefish were caught in late fall and winter [7, 18]. The Haida caught them using kelp lines set with fifty or sixty hooks, marking the surfaces of the lines with bladders made of inflated seal stomachs . The People of Port Simpson caught them with jigs set in rocky channels and about coral and underwater ledges . The Central and Northern Nootka utilized lures with scoop nets or spears . The Coast Salish and Nootka caught sablefish primarily with cod lures, but also used other tools [2, 19].
The Nootka used a cod lure consisting of a spinner lure with twin vanes at the end forced to the ocean bottom using a long pole. The spinner was then released, causing it to spin to the surface and lure the black cod that was subsequently speared using a salmon harpoon or ladled up using an oval dip net. They also lured them with a shimmering stone attached to a line or with a live anchovy or herring tied to a line. The Nootka also used a hook and line, with kelpfish and perch as bait to catch sablefish. The hook was a pointed-angled hook made of dense heartwood of hemlock, fir or balsam, all heavy woods, so the hook was able to sink in the water. The hook had a spruce root shank fastened to a barbless bone or hardwood point with the aid of nettle-fibre rope, the leader was made of nettle-fibre, and the main line was made of braided long kelp stem. An oval stone sinker was fastened where the line joined the leader, and a cod stomach float was fastened so that the hook floated at the proper depth. Usually, only a kelpfish “at the end of a line with no hook” was used, because the “black cod” which swallowed it “would not easily let go” and would be hauled up and clubbed or speared .
The Coast Salish ate sablefish barbecued or baked after cleaning. The cleaning process differed depending on the cooking method. If it was to be barbecued, the head and tail were removed, followed by the backbone, which was removed by slitting the flesh. The head and tail were reserved to make soup including fish chowder, while the entrails were thrown into the sea. If it was to be baked, the entrails were discarded, and the roe and tails were removed and reserved. The head was not necessarily severed as the baked cheeks and eyes were treats. All sizes of sablefish were barbecued using a split-pole rack laid over green cedar crosspieces, which at times were soaked in water to decrease the burning. The cross pieces needed to be green (i.e., immature) because mature cedar burns too readily. The split-pole rack was made of a maple sapling pole because maple is hard, and moderately heat resistant. The sapling was split down the centre to make the rack, hence the name “split-pole rack”. Cedar sticks were placed on one portion of the split, the sablefish was placed on them and other cedar sticks were laid over the fish. Finally, the ends of the pole were bound with cedar bark or nettle fibre to hold the sablefish in place, and the rack was then angled over a fire. To make sablefish chowder, the head was added to soup along with any vegetables on hand. Dried seaweed was usually added to thicken and salt the soup .
The Haida, Makah and Tlingit dried and smoked sablefish flesh for storage . The Haida extracted the oil from sablefish by boiling the flesh and skimming the oil that surfaced. The oil was a treasured relish as a substitute for eulachon oil, which was less accessible in their area, and most of which had to be secured through trade with the Tsimshian .
The Kwakiutl dried the flesh and ate it dipped in oil for breakfast. Before eating it, they toasted it to warm it. They soaked the dried sablefish when it had been kept for an extended period and when it was boiled. Sablefish was used in feasts when there was no more dried salmon or dried halibut. They ate boiled stomach they scooped onto individual plates and eaten with their hands, and also consuming the gills and stock. This dish was reserved for the four or six friends of the fishermen .
Beliefs and taboos
Various rituals and traditions were ascribed to sablefish. The Kwakiutl did not permit the guts to remain in the carcass overnight because they believed that if they did so they would never catch sablefish again . The Haida Raven Clan on the Western Coast was the only Haida clan to use spoons when consuming sablefish. Other clans such as the Eagles ate it with their hands. The Raven Clan referred to it as “our black cod” because according to their tradition, the supreme being of the ocean “The-One-in-the-Sea”, who owned sablefish, was a Raven. From the start of adolescence until four years later, a Haida adolescent girl was allowed to eat no food, save “black cod” and “The-One-in-the-Sea” was said to nourish her during this period. They believed if she ate other fish species during this period, those species would become rare . The Nootka employed various rituals in fishing for sablefish .
Striped bass were eaten by the Micmac (Mi’kmaq) of Richibucto, Iroquois and Wampanoag [24-26]. The Iroquois caught striped bass in the spring . The Wampanoag caught them with spears which were sticks to which a horseshoe crab tail had been affixed or sticks which had a small, sharp lower side branch . The Iroquois obtained striped bass for immediate consumption and also dried the fish for later use .
Black sea bass were eaten by the Wampanoag [24, 27].
Bluefish are reported to have been harvested by the Wampanoag [24, 28].
Cunner were eaten by the Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Richibucto and the Wampanoag [24, 25].
Atlantic croaker was reported to have been consumed by the Rappahannock .
The Rappahannock are reported to have eaten flathead grey mullet, also known as striped mullet, caught with a mullet hook (a barbed hook made of a bent thorn). The hook was attached to a standard line, sinker and wood float .
Lumpfish were reported to have been eaten by West Greenland Inuit who obtained them from the shore using leisters .
Ocean sunfish were reported to have been consumed by the coastal Micmac of Richibucto, New Brunswick .
The Wampanoag of Massachusetts are reported to have given toadfish to the sick because it was thought that the fish was easily digested .
Pacific sand lance were reported to have been consumed by Native Americans of Alaska. They may have eaten them frozen, sliced in tiny pieces and dipped in seal oil .
The Coast Salish are reported to have eaten pile perch, catching them in tiny bays. They were not an important food item, but they added variety to the diet. They were prepared for immediate consumption by steaming in one-foot deep shallow pits reinforced with outer bark of red cedar. The pit was covered with hot rocks, over which hemlock boughs were placed. The whole dressed fish was laid on top, and then a layer of hemlock boughs was placed on them. Finally, the pit was enveloped in a cedar bark or bulrush mat and steam was generated by placing water on the hot rocks using “tubes made of the dried stalks of elderberry or salmon berry”. The steaming process took about one hour .
The Wampanoag are reported to have eaten porgy .
The Coast Salish are reported to have eaten shiner perch .
Tautog were eaten by the Wampanoag of Massachusetts .
White perch were eaten by the Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Richibucto .
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Other Saltwater Fish General
Other saltwater fish species found in North American include various unrelated species, from the huge and awkward ocean sunfish (Mola mola) and the large bass species to smaller perch species.
The Pacific ocean perch (Sebastes alutus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast, from Alaska to California. Their closest relatives are species of rockfish, all within the same genus. Ocean perch, like other rockfish, can look like species of bass. They have a heavy, slightly compressed body, a dorsal fin with spiny-rays in the front and soft-rays in the back, and a large mouth with an overhanging lower jaw and obvious lips. Their body colour varies from bright red to pinkish, often with darker markings on the back. Ocean perch can grow to around 50 cm long and weigh 2 kg. They are most often found in offshore waters .
The sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast, from Alaska to Mexico. They are the single member of their genus and family, but are in the same order as lingcod and greenling, rockfish, and sculpin families. Sablefish are elongated and have two, well separated, dorsal fins and a deeply forked tail. They are dark on the back with paler blotches and are lighter coloured on the belly. They are long-lived and can grow to around 1.2 m long. Sablefish are most often found offshore along muddy bottom, up to almost 2,000 m deep. They feed mainly on crustaceans and fish .
The striped bass (Morone saxatilis) is a saltwater fish native to the North American Atlantic coast, from St. Lawrence to the northern Gulf of Mexico, but have been widely introduced in the United States, both inland and along the Pacific coast. They are in the temperate bass family and closely related to the white perch (M. americana), which is in the same genus. Striped bass have a pale, silvery colour with dark horizontal stripes, a dorsal fin clearly separated by spiny-rays in the front and soft-rays in the back, an overhanging lower jaw, small eyes, and a forked tail. They usually grow to around 3 kg, but can reach over 35 kg, and are most often found close to shore, in shallow waters with rocky outcrops .
The black sea bass (Centropristis striata) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico. They have a long dorsal fin of spiny-rays in the front and soft-rays in the back, large scales, a large mouth, and a rounded tail. They can grow to over 60 cm long and weigh over 4 kg. Black sea bass are most often found on the bottom of shallow coastal waters where there are rocky reefs .
The bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast, from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico. They have a dorsal fin clearly notched between the spiny-rays in the front and the soft-rays in the back, a large head with an overhanging lower jaw, and a deeply forked tail. Bluefish are quite big and can grow to over 1 m long and weigh close to 15 kg .
The cunner (Tautogolabrus adspersus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Altantic coast, from Newfoundland to New Jersey. They are in the same family as the tautog (Tautoga onitis) and are a relatively small fish with a long dorsal fin, large scales, and long teeth. They are most often found in schools along the bottom of shallow waters where there is abundant vegetation [6, 7].
The Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast, from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico. They are in the same family as the freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens), a family related to the perch and darters family and to the sunfish family. Atlantic croaker are pale silvery and have a dorsal fin clearly notched between the spiny-rays in the front and the soft-rays in the back, and a squared tail. The can grow to 55 cm long and weigh around 2.5 kg .
The flathead gray mullet (Mugil cephalus) is a saltwater fish occurring along both North American coasts, southward from Nova Scotia along the Atlantic coast, and southward from California along the Pacific coast. They are silvery with dark horizontal stripes and large, diamond-shaped scales. Flathead gray mullet most often occur in schools along the bottom of shallow coastal waters .
The lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast from New Jersey to northern Labrador and around to the Hudson Bay. The lumpfish family in the same group as the sculpin family. Lumpfish have a rounded body shape, smooth, scale-less skin, a high crest of thick skin covering the first dorsal fin, and suction disks on their belly to secure themselves to rocky bottoms .
The ocean sunfish (Mola mola) is a saltwater fish occurring along North American coasts, southward from British Columbia along the Pacific, and southward from Newfoundalnd along the Atlantic. They are awkward-looking with their disk-shaped body, their absent tail replaced by a tough skin fringe, and their dorsal and anal fins modified into elongated paddles with a limited side-to-side movement. Ocean sunfish are quite large, measuring over 3 m long and weighing up to 2000 kg .
The oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North Amercian Atlantic coast, from Main to Florida. They are awkward looking and have a tadpole-like appearance with their cryptic colours and forms, including long dorsal and ventral fins almost reaching their rounded tail. They are most often bottom-dwelling in shallow waters .
The Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes hexapterus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North Amercian Atlantic coast, from North Carolina to northern Quebec, and along the Arctic coast, up to the Pacific coast from Alaska to California. They are silvery, long and slender, and are most often found in large schools close to the surface, but they are also sometimes found burry in sandy bottoms .
The pile perch (Rhacochilus vacca) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast from Alaska to Mexico. They are in the same family as the shiner perch (Cymatogaster aggregata). Pile perch have an oval-shape body with a single dorsal fin of spiny-rays in the front and soft-rays in the back, a silvery appearance, a darker vertical bar on the sides, and a deeply forked tail .
The porgy (Stenotomus chrysops) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast, from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico. They are laterally compressed and have a long dorsal fin of spiny-rays in the front and soft-rays in the back, large scales, a small head and mouth, and a deeply forked tail with pointed tips. They can grow to around 50 cm long and weigh around 2 kg .
The shiner perch (Cymatogaster aggregata) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast, from Alaska to Mexico. They are in the same family as the pile perch (Rhacochilus vacca) and have a dorsal fin of spiny-rays in the front and soft-rays in the back, a compressed body with large silvery scales, a small mouth, and a deeply forked tail. Shiner perch rarely grow much bigger than 20 cm long .
The tautog (Tautoga onitis) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast, from Nova Scotia to South Carolina. They are in the same family as the cunner (Tautogolabrus adspersus) and have a long dorsal fin of spiny-rays in the front and soft-rays in the back, a rounded head with a small mouth, and a squared tail. Tautog can grow to almost 1 m long and weigh 11 kg .
The white perch (Morone americana) is a saltwater fish native to the North American Atlantic coast, from St. Lawrence to South Carolina, but have been introduced in inland water bodies of United States, including some of the Great Lakes. They are in the temperate bass family and closely related to the striped bass (M. saxatilis), which is in the same genus. White perch have a silvery appearance, a dorsal fin clearly separated by spiny-rays in the front and soft-rays in the back, an overhanging lower jaw, small teeth, and a forked tail .
1. "Sebastes alutus Gilbert, 1890." [http://eol.org/pages/994486/details]
2. "Anoplopoma fimbria Pallas, 1814." [http://eol.org/pages/206154/details]
3. Wooding FH: Lake, river and sea-run fishes of Canada. Madeira Park, BC, Canada: Harbour Publishing; 1997.
4. "Centropristis striata Linnaeus, 1758." [http://eol.org/pages/205158/details]
5. "Pomatomus saltatrix Linnaeus, 1766." [http://eol.org/pages/205264/details]
6. "Tautogolabrus adspersus Walbaum, 1792." [http://eol.org/pages/204375/details]
7. Migdalski EC, Fichter GS: The fresh and salt water fishes of the world. New York, NY, USA: Knopf; 1976.
8. "Micropogonias undulatus Linnaeus, 1766." [http://eol.org/pages/994841/details]
9. "Mugil cephalus" [http://eol.org/pages/206857/details]
10. "Cyclopterus lumpus Linnaeus, 1758." [http://eol.org/pages/1011820/details]
11. "Mola mola Linnaeus, 1758." [http://eol.org/pages/213810/details]
12. "Opsanus tau" [http://eol.org/pages/225201/details]
13. "Ammodytes hexapterus Pallas, 1814." [http://eol.org/pages/206901/details]
14. "Rhacochilus vacca Girard, 1855." [http://eol.org/pages/205598/details]
15. "Stenotomus chrysops Linnaeus, 1766." [http://eol.org/pages/212966/details]
16. "Cymatogaster aggregata Gibbons, 1854" [http://eol.org/pages/1012531/details]
17. "Tautoga onitis Linnaeus, 1758." [http://eol.org/pages/204104/details]
18. "Morone americana Gmelin, 1789." [http://eol.org/pages/216654/details]