Thursday, July 8, 2010

Northern Pike

I'm from the Midwest. As a child, I spent a great deal of time in various woodland areas, and have swam in my fair share of Northern Wisconsin and Michigan lakes, and well, two fish in particular always freaked me out from those lakes, the Muskellunge, and the Northern Pike. Northern Pikes live throughout most of the Northern United States, Canada, and most of Northern Europe. They are one of the most widely distributed freshwater fish in the entire world. The European specimens tend to be slightly larger, and overall, Northern Pike can easily reach over 2 feet in length and weigh over 20lbs.They are also capable of living 25 years, with the largest fish obviously being the oldest.

The Face of Terror!
(Image from SACO)
Northern Pike are absolutely voracious eaters, and will attack and consume things that are up to four times their own size. They are aggressive and territorial, and are apparently quite interesting to fish for because they'll try and eat just about anything. This includes human feet, so watch out swimmers! (The bitten toes of a fellow camper when I was 8 or 9 began my dread of these pointy teethed fish) People-feet aside, they normally eat other fish, but ducks, shorebirds, rodents as large as muskrats, and insects are also tasty snacks for the Northern Pike. Heck, they'll even eat other pike. They have sharp, backwards slanting teeth that they continuously replace over their lifetimes.

I haven't done a scientific name derail in a while, but I find the entymology of Esox lucius to be rather fascinating. Esox comes from Greek and Celtic words that essentially mean Salmon, while lucis most likely comes from a Greek word for wolf. Yes. Wolf Salmon. Eater of everything. In fact, besides eating themselves, their only other major predators as adults are human beings. Eggs and young fish are often consumed by other fish, birds and mammals, though obviously a few of those half million eggs laid by each female are able to survive to adulthood.

Thanks again to Jon for the suggestion!

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