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Coming Up for Air

A long-nosed gar is about to break the water’s surface for a gulp of air.  A small duct connected to the fish’s esophagus will channel the gulp of fresh air to an internal air bladder.  In gars, this bladder is lined with fine blood vessels that absorb oxygen from the swallowed air.  Air bladders of most fish lack the capacity to function as a lung in this manner.  During the hot summer months when dissolved oxygen levels drop in some lakes and ponds, gars use this aerial breathing trick to supplement the little oxygen they obtain from the water with their gills.

Size:  36 x 24 inches  (2003)

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