Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

35 Years of Research & Education

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    a fisherman loads dogfish

    for English markets


    For centuries, fish have attracted people to “Middle Bank” (Stellwagen Bank), as fisherman called the Bank before it was defined geographically by Captain Henry S. Stellwagen in 1854.  The diversity of fishing techniques only partly mirrors the diversity of fish species; more than 130 species can be found on the Bank, some seasonal, others resident.  


    Fish are any aquatic animals with a backbone, fins for movement, and gills for extracting oxygen from water.  This simplified definition may not always account for the great variety of fishes adapted to diverse environments; some fish carry water in their bodies to breathe terrestrially, while others have greatly reduced fins, etc.  A careful look at the anatomy of individual species reveals a story of its habitat, habits and history. 


    Of the more than 20,000 known, living species of fish, all fall into at least three broad categories; the jawless fish (the Cyclostomes), including hagfish and lamprey; cartilaginous fish (the Chondrichthyes) including sharks and rays; and bony fish (the Osteichyes) including herring, cod, tuna, etc. Representatives of all three classes are found on the Bank



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