Though we’ve all heard the expression — “a picture is worth a thousand words” — we may not have considered that a scientific illustration, a good one, is designed to actually convey more than a photograph, and indeed — the best of the illustrations, and illustrators, do so.
Not only are a good illustrator’s drawings artistically pleasing to the eye, but they illustrate scientific accuracy that fisheries biologists and professional researchers can and do rely on for correct analysis and proper identification of trout (& other species) in the field (and lab).
Undeniably, one of those finest scientific illustrators of fish in the world is Joseph Tomelleri.
Joe has developed specialized methodologies to create perfect representations of the native trout that native trout enthusiasts so love to pursue – and he has done so in an unassuming manner that reflects his remarkable professionalism and his attention to every detail.
Via an illustration it is possible to create an exact representation of the desired fish — with no glare or reflection from the mucosal membrane that covers the entire living specimen. The color actually will be ‘truer,’ and even the opaque qualities of the dorsal and tail fins is made more apparent (or transparent) by the brushstrokes of such a truly talented artist.
Not only will the color, hue and intensity be accurate, but the spotting pattern will precisely match the original specimen, and even the scale structure will be perfectly detailed!
Scientific illustrations always reveal the left side of the trout — in a horizontal position with the fins positioned perfectly to allow optimal observation of the complete form and shape of the body and to reveal much more detail than would generally be possible via photographs.
Of course – much more could be said about all that constitutes an ideal optimal illustration. Yet, perhaps the picture – illustration – itself, would speak louder and broader than words:
Joe has been kind enough to create an illustration of one of our favorite Alvord cutthroat trout phenotypes in the system; an exact representation of a ***** Creek Alvord cutthroat trout — one that we’ve called “Mr. Alvord” for three summers.
And, indeed, “Mr. Alvord” reflects the meristic and qualitative details that Hubbs’ spelled out with early Virgin Creek Alvord cutthroat trout specimens that were caught in 1934.
As we noted in an earlier post: Will we Bequeath a Living Legacy — or Only a Memory?
‘The rose red opercula; the crimson lateral line with brick red hues; the olive back; brassy sides; purplish lower fins; light spotting on the back all above the lateral line; with intense spotting on the caudal peduncle and fins; and the fire engine slash — all predominate in this trout’ (original descriptions by Hubbs’ from 1934 sampling of Trout Creek & Virgin Creek).
There are also other ‘descriptors’ that match this trout – and the other fine specimens that are extant in ***** Creek. Indeed, the few spots (even above the lateral line) and the rose coloration (prominent on the body of this trout) along with other visible meristic indicators are likely meaningful representative indicators as to the heritage that these trout possess.
Perhaps an additional aspect of this trout –and the trout in general in ***** Creek– would be that they seem to have –generally– ‘gotten away from’ the lacustrine, or even adfluvial, characteristics that may have at one time been extant in remnant alvordensis populations that have survived from the pluvial past, and would seem to have now adopted the fluvial characteristics that would be anticipated in stream-resident populations.
A very special thank you to Joseph Tomelleri, for taking this very limited phenotypical remnant of Alvord cutthroat trout into consideration — providing an awesome illustration of what was a living remnant, in our lifetimes, of an ‘extinct’ population of cutthroat trout.
It is in the hope that concerned biologists will be enabled to preserve these living realities; that living proof of this beautiful trout species will be preserved — saved from extirpation by the thoughtful concern of this generation, wisely taking action to work such a miracle — that this post, and the beautiful Alvord cutthroat trout illustration herein, are dedicated.
© KOD October 2012