|LISTEN UP: Ear bones in adult snook provide important data. Photo: Gerry Bethge|
Determining the age of snook can provide critical information on how to bolster their numbers. How do the biologists actually determine a fish's age? At Ockelmann-LoBello's lab, I watched her remove an ear bone, or otolith, from a 30-inch snook. About twice the size of an adult fingernail, the otolith displays distinct annual growth rings, just like a tree trunk, when examined under a microscope. The 30-inch snook was ten years old.