Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuna and Dolphins and Sharks, Oh My...

Originally posted by Robbie Schallert on the Tag A Giant blog:

It was another fine day on the water aboard the Sensation. Today the TAG team was joined by Michael Tickle in the angler’s seat. Captain Dale, Alan, and CP rounded out the tagging crew with Robbie and Andre. We started the day with a double header of bluefin, one of which made it to the boat for a tag. As we were fighting those two fish, CP drifted a bait back and we had another hit on the drifting ballyhoo. Michael’s expert angling made quick work of that 72 inch fish and it was soon on its way out the door with a brand new tag of its own. The bite slowed down throughout the fleet late in the morning, and we didn’t get any more tags out for the rest of the day, despite seeing bluefin swimming in the waves. We did manage a double header of yellowfin, which added to the excitement as the bluefin bite dropped off. We were also rewarded with some delightful nature viewing, with common and Risso’s dolphin pods swimming with the tunas and the ever present hammerhead sharks. We had Wednesday off due to weather, but will give it another go on Thursday. Wish us luck!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tuna Sensation

Originally posted by Robbie Schallert on the Tag A Giant blog:

We jumped on the Sensation early in the morning (5:00am) to get a head start on the tuna bite...and Capt. Dale Britt did not disappoint. We started the day off with a nice bigeye tuna and then tagged three bluefin. The first one tipped the scales at 416 lbs, and while it was getting its new jewelry, another fish bit a bait that Big Country had drifted back. Angler John Hadley jumped back in chair for his second fish in a row...this one measured 76 inches! The All Stars took over for the third fish with Capt. Alan Scibal in the chair and IGFA Hall of Fame wireman Charles "CP" Perry taking over at the rail! Again the Gulf Stream had lots of life with schooling tuna and hammerheads dotting the surface. We even had a humpback wave to us in a pod of dolphins! Looks like we will be sitting on shore for a couple days because of weather, but hopefully we will get out again on Tuesday.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Closer to the Action

Originally posted by Robbie Schallert on the Tag A Giant blog:

TAG team has moved up the beach to Oregon was a little more sporty than we hoped, but with local Capt. Charles Perry running the boat we had no problem getting out to the fish. The Gulf Stream was full of life again...mantas, sharks, turtles, and tuna! We fought one fish to the wire but pulled the hook. Heading out tomorrow bright and early to try again.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Big Country Comes to Town

(This is a cross-posting from our Tag A Giant blog, courtesy of TAG Scientist Robbie Schallert)

The TAG team was back on the water Friday in search of more bluefin. After a long run past The Point in some sporty seas, Captain Dale put us on the fish fact we had a tuna hit the flat line as it was being let out! Anglers Daragh Brown and Erin Wright, having been trained by living legend Peter Wright, brought the fish in with ease. Once to the back of the boat, Alan "Big Country" Scibal took charge of the leader and wired the fish to the transom door. Dr. Dre surgically implanted the tags, and with a couple of quick stiches, the fish were ready to head out the door to show the school their new hardwear. By the end of the day, we had 4 fish tagged, all in the 220-260 pound size range. It was a long ride home as we battled a head sea the whole way but no one seemed to mind after a great day on the water. You can see some of the action below...


Luck of the Irish

Our Tag-A-Giant team is currently off the coast of North Carolina tagging bluefin tuna.  I'm going to be cross-posting their blog entries here, or you can follow them directly at the Tag-A-Giant blog.  This first one is courtesy of TAG Scientist Robbie Schallert.  Go TAG Team!

TAG-A-Giant 2011 got underway with four bluefin tagged on a gorgeous North Carolina day. The Sensation, captained by Dale Britt and Mate Alan Scibal, hooked a double header to kick off St. Patty's Day with Irish scientist Daragh Browne in the chair. Duke grad student Caitlin Hammer fought the next two fish under guest captain Peter B. Wright's tutelage. The ocean was filled with life on the other side of the Gulf Stream with schools of hammerhead sharks, mantas and tuna exciting the crew. There were literally hundreds of tuna surfing down swell...a site to behold! It is great to get the season started...hopefully the weather will hold through the weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

White Shark Team Takes Census of Northern California Population

The white shark research team has published two papers in the past few days, documenting the ability to recognize individual sharks year after year by the distinctive shapes and markings on their dorsal fins; and then using this information to estimate the total size of the white shark population in this region.

The first study, which was published March 1 in the journal Marine Biology (Anderson et. al., 2011) shows that it is possible to positively identify the same shark year after year - even over time periods as long as 15-22 years!

Figures a and b show the fin of a single shark in 2007 and 2008;
Figure c shows a different shark in 2008 - illustrating how
distinctive the fin edge shape can be.

  The second study, published today in the journal Biology Letters (Chapple et. al., 2011), uses fin photographs like those above to calculate the total size of the white shark population that returns to northern California each year - and the estimate was just 219 individuals.

Because this marks the first census of this population, we have no way of knowing whether this number is typical, or if it is unusually low (or even unusually high).  What it provides, however, is a baseline that can be used in the years ahead to monitor changes in the adult white shark population - which will be a key step in managing and, if needed, protecting these animals in the wild.

As one might expect, we've had a lot of media interest in the story.  You can check out the latest news coverage at the GTOPP website.