Last night, Monster Fish’s Zeb Hogan connected with fans on Facebook and wasn’t… koi, about answering viewers’ questions. Zeb is an aquatic ecologist who travels across the globe to find and save critically endangered freshwater fish and the livelihood of people who share their habitats. Here are some highlights from his first ever Q&A session!
Q: When did you first get interested in ichthyology?
A: It happened gradually. As a young child, my parents wouldn’t let me have a pet dog or cat, so I had a fish. Then over the summer between 7th and 8th grade, we lived near a creek and I’d go down and sit on the bank and watch the fish. Then in high school I volunteered at an aquarium one summer, and then at the University of Arizona I worked as a research assistant conducted fish surveys on the Colorado River. But it wasn’t until grad school that I finally realized that I wanted to work with fish as a career.
Q: What was your favorite fish to catch?
A: Sturgeon and taimen (giant trout). Sturgeon because they get big, pull hard, and sometimes jump. Taimen because they are the largest trout in the world, hunt in packs, live in Mongolia which is an awesome place, and are beautiful fish. Also catch and release works well for both sturgeon and taimen – if handled properly post release mortality is less than 2%.
Q: Zeb, are you against the shark cull?
A: From what I understand there is little evidence that the shark cull reduces shark “attacks” – personally I’d rather see the sharks relocated, or an examination of other methods that might be effective without killing sharks. We all take a chance, a very small chance, of encountering a shark every time we swim in the ocean – SCUBA divers hope to see sharks, others are ambivalent, but for the few that run the real risk of being bitten, let’s work with them to find ways to avoid bites without killing sharks.
Q: Zeb Hogan? What about Hulk Hogan?
A: Hulk Hogan’s real name is Terry Gene Bollea, my real name is Zeb Hogan, so no we aren’t related. Might make for an interesting show though?!
Q: Do you eat any of those fish?
A: I eat sustainably caught fish, or invasive species. I don’t typically eat the fish in the shows, because many of the fish we feature in the shows are endangered.
Q: What are your favorite fish?
A: Mekong giant catfish, giant stingray, giant barb, wallago catfish, goonch, longfin eel, Murray cod, arapaima, piraiba, green sturgeon, white sturgeon, paddlefish, alligator gar, taimen, and wolf fish.
Q: Do you prefer to go for taimen on a fly or reel?
A: Depends if I want to catch one or not. I’ve caught taimen on the fly before but I’m not an expert. So for a sure catch, I use a spinning rod, jointed rapala, and barbless hook.
Q: Is your job dangerous?
A: Handling large fish can be dangerous, because they are powerful animals. But we always take precautions to minimize the chance of injury both to the crew and the fish.