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Outdoors: Scientists discover new bass species

FRANK SARGEANT/Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 11, 2013 at 07:46 PM

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Scientists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have uncovered a new species of black bass in the southeastern United States. They have proposed naming the species the Choctaw bass and recommended the scientific name of Micropterus haiaka.

The scientists first noted a DNA profile that did not belong to any recognized species while testing a bass specimen from the Chipola River in 2007, as part of a broader genetic study of bass.

Scientists found that Choctaw bass inhabit coastal river systems in Alabama and along Florida's western panhandle, including the Choctawhatchee River.

“We chose the name 'Choctaw bass' because the species' range overlaps the historic range of the Choctaw indians,” said Mike Tringali, who heads the genetics laboratory at the conservation commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Choctaw bass are similar in appearance to their relatives, spotted bass. The physical differences are not easily seen with the naked eye, one reason they had never been distinguished despite decades of bass studies in the region.

For more about how the scientists discovered the new species, visit myfwc.com/research and click on Freshwater, then select Black Basses under Freshwater Sport Fishes.

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