Next time you slice up your favorite saltwater fish, consider donating its carcass to science.
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission soon will begin collecting carcasses of several elusive species: cobia, spadefish, sheepshead, red and black drum, tilefish and grouper, from recreational fishermen to study the health of the fish populations.
Since 1998, the commission has collected length, weight, sex and age information from more than a dozen species in the Chesapeake Bay.
Most of the samples come from the commercial fishing industry, but some of the species aren't popular commercial catches, so the commission is turning to recreational anglers to fill the gaps.
Researchers are interested in how long the fish are living, how big they're growing and other details such as the ratio of females to males to determine what that might mean for the viability of the species.