Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Sunday, August 24, 2014: Quite a looker, this Sunday before the final summer Sunday – windblown sunshine. Tough sledding for surfcasters, made tougher by 5- to 6-foot-plus surf.
Summer does not officially close on our calendars until Sept. 22 but there are two real-world things that supersede mere calendar concepts, namely school start-ups and Labor Day. While those two might mark the mere unofficial end of summer, hereabouts the seasonal demographic change is the well-marked, even vivid, end to the sun-and-fun summer season.
I’ll add that the Weather Service tabulates meteorological summer as running from June 1 to Sept. 1. That means I’ll check this week to see just how cool this summer has been. While it might not be astoundingly chilly in terms of the number of cooling degree days – when air conditioners hum – when juxtaposed to something like the ten years in succession we saw with way-above-normal temps, this summer has felt doubly comfortable and forgiving.
Not fully related, I just experienced the lowest tick-count summer -- maybe ever. I kid you not. And other folks who work and breathe the woods are in full agreement. Just a rough piece of anecdotal proof comes from my departing usually heavily-ticked areas of the outback with literally no ticks on me – dozens of time. Again, some forest folks talked of at worst seeing a tick here and there. Importantly, this tick reprieve does not include wooded areas that were recently clear-cut or have been heavily disturbed. Dead foliage will always become saturated with ticks -- and, far scarier, tiny tick nymphs, which can attack the body by the hundreds and need to be removed individually. I read of just such a misadventure that befell a gal on Facebook. Yes, tick nymphs can carry spooky diseases, same as grown ones.
Not surprisingly, the deciduous woods, like those along Route 9, are currently vegetated to the hilt. The frequent rains and a forgiving summer sun have allowed them to max out. The fullness of trees and foliage is actually scientifically determined, often via infrared readings. Why is it important? 0xygen, plain and simply. Plants are the great giver of clean air and the prime natural fighter of pollution. A good tree/plant year means a good air year.
ANOTHER ODD PRESCENCE: Recent seines net pulls indicate yet another oddly tropical showing this summer. Porcupine fish, aka spiny blowfish/puffers, are highly present. Where a single one would be a huge find during a normal summer seining session, they’re showing up in every pull.
The porcupine fish showing, coupled with assorted groupers being hooked and the huge houndfish, makes this summer odder yet on the marine life front. It does seem that many of the porcupine and some grouper were blown into the bay as larvae and eggs – hatching in June and growing to date.
That larval arrival comes about via quirks in the Gulf Stream, as it transports water northward from the tropic. When that current hits northern currents, the Gulf Stream loosens its hold on its load. It then comes down to the onshore winds of spring to blow the free-floating eggs/larvae toward the shore, through the inlets and into the bay. That is also how we get our mullet.
Seems it this year offered an ideal blow-in spring. Because of that, there are going to be hundreds, even thousands, of butterfly fish on east Barnegat Bay eelgrass beds. These colorful butterfly fish make amazingly hardy tropicals for saltwater aquariums.
Weirdly, the beautiful butterfly fish don’t migrate well – if at all. I’ve watched them in the bay as waters turn cold. They just get sluggish, then die. Other rarities like those groupers and porcupine fish – not to mention mullet – instinctively head south before the killer cold sets in.
Could the story below have anything to do with the arrival of numerous tropical fish hereabouts? Possibly, but I've been netting tropicals for 40 years now and the showing of certain types does seem cyclical. Still, I deeply fret over warming seas, far more for the very real impact it'll have on marine life over guesses at when the sea will rise. Warnings over sea temp increases -- and the likely increase in huge storms -- is playing out in a scientifically provable manner.
Ocean surfaces last month tied for the second hottest July on record. Photo credit: Shutterstock
The National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the average temperature was 62.56 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.06 degrees above the 20th-century average. The ocean surfaces also reached that temperature in July 2009. It’s the third straight month this year that ocean surface temperatures set a record.
The NOAA reported:
Much warmer than average and record warm temperatures were prevalent in every major ocean basin, particularly notable across parts of the Arctic Seas between Greenland and northern Europe, the southern Indian Ocean, and the western equatorial Pacific Ocean. Neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions were present across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during July 2014. Temperature departures from average in this region, a major indicator of the conditions, cooled slightly compared with the previous month.
Other July statistics from the NOAA:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for July 2014 was the fourth highest on record for July, at 1.15°F above the 20th-century average of 60.4°F.
The global land surface temperature was 1.33°F above the 20th-century average of 57.8°F, marking the 10th warmest July on record.
The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the January–July period (year-to-date) was 1.19°F above the 20th-century average of 56.9°F, tying with 2002 as the third warmest such period on record.
I put Bill H on this 11.5 lb and 29.5" doormat this morning. In Barnegat Inlet on live bait.