Last Sunday something very strange was discovered by a young boy on the beach of the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point. This non-avian discovery made its way to Director Frank Gallo. Our own Conservation Biologist and fellow blog author, Dr. Twan Leenders, took the following photographs.
He, in consultation with scientist friends and former colleagues, identified it as a juvenile Striped Burrfish. This is a species of puffer fish. We are still waiting to hear back from experts about its frequency of occurrence, and whether or not this sighting is rare or simply uncommon in this part of Long Island Sound. Twan did tell me that it shows up in the New York area in late August and September. He therefore assumes that there is some cyclical cycle, whether it is seasonal or reproductive, behind its appearance in more northern east coast regions.
A nice summary of the species is available here from the South Carolina aquarium website. Their species profile also suggests it is “rare north of North Carolina”, though the definition of rare can certainly vary. I would surmise it is infrequently found inhabiting some of the warmer waters of the Mid-Atlantic, and that it is indeed rare in Long Island Sound. I would also take a leap and hypothesize that during the hottest year ever recorded by humans the warm water temperatures are allowing many species to move a bit more north. A recent article in the Connecticut Post discussed how research in Long Island Sound has shown more warm-water and tropical species occurring in the waters. This is climate change in action. Just like the birds around us the countless lifeforms in the Atlantic Ocean are quickly adapting and changing to this new reality.
Photos © Twan Leenders