Check out the crazy markings on this Pennsylvania bass!
Recently the American Fisheries Society Black Bass Conservation Committee (BBCC) posted photos of this striking, black-splotched largemouth bass on its Facebook page.
The photos, which are screen shots from a video shot by professional bass fisherman Grae Buck, show his wife Jessica Buck holding a fish with melanosis. The post goes on to explain that this condition is when something affects the pigment expression in the skin, turning it black. Termed blotchy bass syndrome, it has been found in black bass species in waterbodies across the United States with increasing frequency.
“While a truly melanistic fish would be all black, we more commonly see parts of the fish black, irregular blotches, spots, or fins,” the post reads.
These crazy colored fish show up from time to time, and previously it has been explained as a genetic mutation. In its explanation of this fish, however, BBCC pointed to new research being conducted at the U.S.G.S. Eastern Ecological Science Center in West Virginia.
The research found that this blotchy skin condition is actually caused by a viral infection, an emerging novel adomavirus. Researchers have not pinned down a cause yet, but a U.S.G.S. report suggests higher incidences of blotchy bass syndrome in disturbed water systems, with a potential link to chemicals.
There is currently broad ongoing research to try and determine the causes and effects of this infection.