Prehistoric gar are one of the biggest freshwater fish in the United States. Its muscular body looks like a long torpedo-shaped fish and its head has an elongated snout similar to that of an alligator. With a dual row of large, sharp, pointed teeth, it can quickly immobilize prey, making it a highly effective predator.
As one of the world’s last remaining dinosaurs, their anatomy hasn’t changed much since prehistoric times. Their ancestors used to roam many parts of the world, but today alligator gar can only be found in North America. The Trinity River offers a perfect habitat for the gar to hide and hunt with its deep murky waters that wind over 700 miles from northern Texas into the Gulf of Mexico. These fish can weigh up to 300 lbs. and can be found in lakes, bayous and bays. They can tolerate brackish and salt water and prefer large, slow-moving rivers with wide floodplains, where shallow waters provide hatchlings with some protection from predators. Flood-control measures such as dams have dramatically changed their ecosystems and negatively impacted their preferred spawning habitats. Breeding challenges and overfishing have also contributed to their population declines.
To help understand the relatively stealthy lives of alligator gar, researchers have been investigating their behavior using HTI acoustic tag telemetry. This detailed behavioral information can help improve management for their survival. Here are a couple examples where HTI tags were used in real-time to track alligator gar, including an episode on the National Geographic Channel with HTI Senior Fisheries Biologist, Sam Johnston and Fish Warrior Host, Jakub Vâgner.