Above: Pelagic Sargassum – St. Vincent – August 2014 – credit E. Doyle
Massive quantities of pelagic sargassum have been washing up along Caribbean shorelines this year, significantly disrupting coastal habitats, local fishing, tourism and community activities. Scientists with the University of Southern Mississippi – Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) and their regional collaborators are assessing critical aspects of this event (as with the 2011 Caribbean mass sargassum strandings event), including the source and causes.
PLEASE CLICK HERE for more information on Pelagic Sargassum and for some useful informational links sent to us by our colleague Dr. Jim Franks from the University of Southern Mississippi – Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL)…
Greenland Hunting More Killer Whales as Climate Changes
Inuit in eastern Greenland have been hunting more killer whales as climate change leaves the area free of ice longer, says a Dane who recently posted a photo on Facebook of a hunter butchering a whale.
Thomas Bilde Below lives in Copenhagen, but travels to Greenland every year.
“They have the long dorsal fin,” he says of killer whales, or orca, “so they couldn’t come into ice areas before.”
Below says that this year, hunters have caught one or two orcas, but 35 to 40 have been harvested in previous years.
The hunt usually begins in August and continues into October in the villages of Tasiilaq, Kuumiut, Kulusuk and Ittoqqortoormiit.
The hunters, he says, usually travel in small boats.
“They’re typically after seals, and sometimes they are lucky to spot an orca pod and then they go after them slowly, very slowly.”
Above: Orcas swim off the northern coast of B.C. in this file photo. Danish visitor Thomas Bilde Below says that in recent years, Inuit on the east coast of Greenland have hunted up to 40 killer whales for their meat and skin. (credit – Vancouver Aquarium)
Drones – a Fisheries Assessment Tool?
Drones – perhaps you saw what the fuss was all about. The topic has surfaced in popular culture, science and technology circles, and even on the pages of Field&Stream. In December, there were news articles about Amazon testing product delivery using drones (Unmanned Aerial System/Vehicle). January was more interesting, when Lakemaid Beer (which I very much enjoy) launched a YouTube campaign touting beer deliveries to ice anglers. Having experienced a beer shortage while ice fishing, I thought an excellent solution was at hand – until the FAA stepped in and grounded these flights.
Hunters and anglers have started to use the technology in ways perhaps more sinister than beer delivery. The Field&Stream article by Michael R. Shea (2014), told of some Louisiana hunters who outfitted a drone with a thermal imaging camera, and were soon targeting feral hogs with radio communications and night-vision equipped AR-15s. On the fisheries side, they have been used to target redfish and speckled trout on coastal flats. The ethical dilemma of fair chase is certainly in question here, but then again, how different is this technology from side-scanning and down-scanning sonar that can tell you which tree the crappies are stacked on?
The public has weighed in against the use of these devices. The Pew Research Center (2014) asked Americans about drone use, and 63% indicated that uninhibited personal and commercial drone use would represent a change for the worse.
Above: Neil Smith, Insitu Pacific Ltd. Marine researcher Amanda Hodgson holding an aerial drone. Studying ocean animals can be a tough gig. By simply observing them you change their environment. (credit – Yahoo Finance.)
Look Who’s Back: Sturgeon are Spawning Again in the Chesapeake Bay
In 1997, Dave Secor was a young fisheries biologist just starting his career at the University of Maryland. Like almost everyone else, he believed that Atlantic sturgeon, a species that has survived since the age of the dinosaurs, had been long gone from the Chesapeake Bay. But that year a small number of juvenile sturgeon turned up, and they were too small to have immigrated from elsewhere.
“That was a major surprise,” Secor said.
Though sightings were rare back then and still are today, the population of sturgeon that spawn in the Chesapeake Bay has grown. In 2012 that population was added to the endangered species list. Usually a listing is bad news, but in this case it was cause for celebration.
Now scientists are racing to find out what’s driving the recovery so they can reinforce it. Their efforts recently got a big boost when NOAA Fisheries awarded a three-year, $1.75 million species recovery grant to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Above: Matt Balazik, the sturgeon surgeon. Credit – Matt Balazik
Updated Catch Reports Section of ROFFS™ Website
Nice Catch! Fish caught earlier this week offshore of Maryland by ROFFS™ Client Andrew Levinson fishing aboard “Seaflame”. (See Photo Above.)
Be sure to visit the section titled “Catch Reports” located under the “Insights” tab on our ROFFS™ website that will feature current catch reports from areas such as the Northeastern U.S., North Carolina/Hatteras, South Carolina/Georgia, Florida, the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and the Gulf of Mexico. We continue to post weekly updates in this category so please check back often.
More mahi (dolphin) offshore of NJ, DE & MD caught by ROFFS™ client Ricky Wheeler (See Photo Above.)
If you do not want to wait for our next Fishy Times newsletter, please visit us in the meantime to get all your fishing news on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and on the web. Safe and successful fishing until next time!