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Fish: Glossary

A

anadromous fish
a fish born in fresh water, that spends most of its life in the sea and returns to fresh water to spawn. Salmon, smelt, shad, striped bass, and sturgeon are common examples
anal fin
a single fin located beneath the tail

C

cartilage
a translucent, elastic, connective tissue found in humans and vertebrate animals that provides support to the skeleton at specific sites throughout the body. It provides support, flexibility, and elasticity to the ends of bone tissue and to the nose, ears, breastbone, trachea, larynx, joints, and other parts of the body. Some animal skeletons, such as that of the shark, are completely made of cartilage
catadromous fish
a fish that lives in fresh water and enters salt water to spawn. Most of the eels are catadromous
caudal fin
the tail fin
coelacanth
fossil fish that was discovered to still be alive in 1938
cold-blooded
the kind of animal, such as insects, reptiles, frogs, and fish whose body temperature, varies with the temperature of their surroundings. Because their rate of metabolism declines with a drop in the outside temperature, cold-blooded animals become torpid in cold weather

D

defense
a way of protecting yourself from enemies. For fish, it includes camouflage, self-enlargement, color change, ink squirting, and propulsion
dorsal
on the back
dorsal fin
the large single fin located along the back bone of a fish

E

ecosystem
organisms living in a particular environment, such as a forest or a coral reef, and the physical parts of the environment that affect them
egg
female reproductive cell

F

fin
one of the movable parts that look like wings, sticking out from the body of a fish. A fish uses its fins to swim and balance itself in the water

G

gill
what a fish breathes with. They are openings filled with thin pieces of skin. Water goes into the openings and through the pieces of skin. They take the oxygen out of the water and put the oxygen into the fish's blood

H

headwater
the waters from which a river begins

L

life cycle
all the stages in the life of a living things. During this life cycle, living things develop, are born, grow and change. They become adults and reproduce and die

M

mating season
in biology, the period of time when males and females pair so female eggs and male sperm join to produce offspring
migrate
to pass usually periodically from one region or climate to another for feeding or breeding
milt
another word for sperm

P

pectoral
either of the fins of a fish that correspond to the forelimbs of an animal with 4 arms or legs
pelvic fin
paired fins located about halfway down the length of a fish along the abdomen
predator
a animal that hunts, kills, and eats other animals in order to survive

R

redd
the series of depressions or nests that a female salmon digs in the gravel bottom of a stream for the purpose of depositing her eggs

S

scales
one of the hard, flat structures that cover the body of fish, snakes, and lizards
smolt
juvenile salmon at the time that it is adapting from freshwater to saltwater
spawn
to deposit or produce eggs from female fish and milt (sperm) from male fish
sperm
male reproductive cell
spinal column
the column of bones in the back. This called the backbone

T

torpid
sluggish in functioning or acting, having biological activity slowed or stopped
tributary
a river or stream flowing into a larger river or stream

V

vertebrate
animals with a backbone
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