The 2008 New Zealand Pacific bluefin satellite tagging effort is underway. I reunited with Pete Saul and colleagues, John Holdsworth (Bluewater Marine Research) and Tim Sippel (Auckland University) in Greymouth on August 16, 2008 for another shot at tagging the giant tuna off the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
Back in late March and early April, we put out 5 tags on weaned elephant seal pups. We chose weaners whose mothers had carried TOPP satellite tags. Our hope was to see if their first trip to sea looked anything like moms. Four of the 5 weaners headed north up the coast. The other one went southwest. The tags we put on had a limited life--only 3 months, so we knew we weren't going to get their whole trip before the tag gave out. Several of the tags lasted longer than we expected--one is still transmitting. The weaner that is wearing the remaining transmitting tag is in the
We put out the first 2 tags on molted adult male elephant seals at Ano Nuevo today. These large males have been molting (growing new skin and fur) for the last month. Male eseals come to land for two reasons, to grow new fur and to breed. So, now that they have accomplished #1, they are off with their new coat of fur to start their foraging trip before the big show--the breeding season. When they leave they will most likely head to the Aleutians (we will see where they actually go) to build up their body reserves to try to be the biggest, baddest male on the beach and thus to win th
The TOPP sea turtle team is excited to announce the publication of our leatherback tracking manuscript just released in the open source scientific journal, PLoS Biology on July 15, 2008, Persistent Leatherback Turtle Migrations Present Opportunities for Conservation.
We were able to get the final 15 archival tags out on small bluefin tuna on Saturday morning, and we topped off the live wells so that 15 fish were aboard swimming in circles below deck. At this point we have archival tagged 112 Pacific bluefin in the past week, and collected 30 live fish for the Tuna Research and Conservation Center. We’ve also placed 7 archival tags in albacore (we stopped tagging albies when I realized how many bluefin were around). This total puts our team at a total of about 550 electronic tags on Pacific bluefin.
Epic. Remarkable. Inspiring. Those are words to describe today, Friday, July 11th aboard the F/V Shogun. I’ve not experienced a day fishing and tagging Pacific bluefin like this since early August of 2002. It's the same place and same ocean, but a long time has passed since the bluefin were biting like this. It is a day you live for as an angler- and as a tuna scientist- the fun of such great action keeps you enthusiastic about what we’re doing forever.
The NMFS team just completed its annual juvenile shark survey in the Southern California Bight. This area is an important nursery ground for blue, mako, white and thresher sharks, all of which are caught in local fisheries. Blue and mako sharks are the two species most commonly caught during this survey although we do occasionally catch mola mola, pelagic rays and thresher sharks as well. Through the survey we collect a range of biological and fisheries data and also deploy satellite tags in collaboration with the TOPP program.
We came in with our full load of bluefin, but unlike years past where we usually unload at Scripps dock, we came right in to Fisherman's Landing. Here Norm pulled the Shogun in as close as he could, and we unloaded each fish individually from the well in a sling of water. The hard part was that we had to walk, and run the fish- 400 feet up a ramp- across the dock- and down a sidewalk to get to the Tunabago truck, that has been built specifically for transporting fish.
The TOPP team is currently onboard the F/V Shogun for our annual tagging and collecting trip. After two days in U.S. waters, we're now fishing in Mexican waters where a very nice showing of tunas occurred. Small bluefin were feeding at the surface in numerous spots. Some are the smallest fish we've seen in years- measuring 63-68 cm- about 5kg fish. We were able to collect 16, tag about 10, and then collect 3 for sampling by Ph.D students doing projects on physiology and ecology.
We've had an exciting day aboard the Shogun. We've been in an area that has some very spectacular schools of small bluefin- exactly what we're looking for. Today was an Audubon special with whales, albatross, jumping bluefin- and albacore- sometimes all around the boat. The bluefin are two year old bluefin- about 15-18 lb fish- perfect for collecting- and placing in wells flowing with seawater below the deck. The bluefin made some spectacular shows- at the surface- aggressively feeding, jumping and exciting all of us. We have not seen such intense surface action in two years.