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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, August 13, 2017 1:00 am

Fish ID service offered by state

DIONA ESKEW | Elkhart Truth

ELKHART – Have you ever been fishing and caught something but weren't quite sure what it was?

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has a service for you and everyone else in the state who needs help identifying fish. The first thing you will need to do, after reeling in the fish of course, is to snap a photograph or record video of your catch. Then go online to www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/9448.htm and fill out the form and wait for your answer.

The online form went live in May, according to IDNR Nongame Aquatic Biologist Brant Fisher. He was a little surprised at the response so far.

“I am actually pleasantly surprised on the number of submissions we have had so far,” said Fisher in an email. “We have had about 15 submissions to date, so a couple a week – wasn't sure we'd get any.”

The service came together because anglers often send in photos or bring fish to many different biologists or properties to get help identifying them. According to Fisher, the online service helps to streamline that process into one central location.

The online public service also helps get timely identifications back to anglers, and it helps the IDNR collect data on species and their habitats.

“Having this service available could also provide us with location information for species that we didn't know were inhabiting certain areas of the state – so it could provide us new distribution information for certain species,” said Fisher.

For the time being, Fisher is the main fish identifier, but others may be called in if a need arises.

So far Fisher has been able to identify all of the fish that have been submitted by the public.

“The most difficult ones are the ones where the photo is not very good – accurate identification really depends on how good the photo is,” he said. “If I get good photos there shouldn't be much issue with identifying the catch accurately. There are only a couple of species that are so similar that you would need to have the fish in hand to make ray counts on fins or scale counts, etc.”

Some of the previous submissions have been: longear sunfish, golden shiner, black buffalo, warmouth, rosyface shiner, bowfin, longnose gar, shortnose gar, creek chub, freshwater drum and logperch. However, the most interesting submission Fisher has received didn't even come from Indiana waterways.

“The most interesting submission I have received to date was for the identification of an Arabian toadfish – that washed up on shore at Dubai Park in the Persian Gulf (United Arab Emirates),” he said.

“Not sure how the person found out about our service,” he added.

If you don't have regular internet access there is no reason to worry – you can still get help to identify your fish. A printed photo, including contact information, can be mailed in to Brant E. Fisher, Nongame Aquatic Biologist, Indiana Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife Science Unit, Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area, 7970 South Rowe Street, Edinburgh, IN 46124-1456.