Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Dogs have this winter wired better than I do ...
Tuesday, March 03, 2015: I’ve hit the winter wall, as have many others. As we wait for what will likely be the last serious snows of winter( 5 inches plus coming), I look to late next week’s highs near 60s to realize how quickly we can dash toward the relative warmth of early spring. That’s not to say coldness might not inch back in now and again but the upcoming first full thaw in over a month (again, late next week) will finally free me up to dig, track, bike and count emerging herptiles.
Below: Maybe ...
We go back to Daylight Savings Time this weekend, technically on Sunday (2 a.m.). Any other time I’d be hoopin’ it up a bit to get a solid chunk of usable daylight back but this weather pit we're in remains as dark and dank as I’ve ever seen it. Light isn’t much good if it’s sloshed under. You can see the negative thinking this winter has induced. Still, spring rocks – and I’m sure it’ll eventually turn my sun-deprived mind around.
While daylight savings time seems highly American and was fully pondered by Ben Franklin in the 1700s, it actually originated on the other end of the planet. London-born New Zealander George Vernon Hudson officially presented the government with the concept of taking daylight from the somnolent start of the day and placing it at the more up-and-about end of the day. His rationale was crawlingly strange. He was a fevered bug collector. Apparently entomologists find a lot more six-legged action going on toward day’s end.
I read an archival newspaper piece on George’s initial efforts to get everyone in all of New Zealand to turn their clocks an hour ahead in spring. It took weeks for just the laughing to quiet down, especially when it was discovered it was to assist bug collectors. Oddly, little else is reported until, lo and behold, one spring NZ’s clocks suddenly sprung forward an hour and fell then back an hour in fall.
But Big Ben publically pondered a similar daylight savings thing a century earlier. In a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris he wrote:
“I looked at my watch, which goes very well, and found that it was but six o’clock; and still thinking it something extraordinary that the sun should rise so early, I looked into the almanac, where I found it to be the hour given for his rising on that day. I looked forward, too, and found he was to rise still earlier every day till towards the end of June; and that at no time in the year he retarded his rising so long as till eight o’clock. Your readers, who with me have never seen any signs of sunshine before noon, and seldom regard the astronomical part of the almanac, will be as much astonished as I was, when they hear of his rising so early; and especially when I assure them, that he gives light as soon as he rises. I am convinced of this. I am certain of my fact. One cannot be more certain of any fact. I saw it with my own eyes. And, having repeated this observation the three following mornings, I found always precisely the same result. …”
Additionally he wrote:
“… All the difficulty will be in the first two or three days; after which the reformation will be as natural and easy as the present irregularity; for, ce n’est que le premier pas qui coûte. Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is more than probable he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening; and, having had eight hours sleep, he will rise more willingly at four in the morning following.”
"Let go of the frickin' leash!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
The first sounds of frog-life will be the astoundingly tough – or insanely horny – wood frog, Lithobates sylvaticus, formerly Rana sylvaticus. I was really pissed off when they changed from Rana to Lithobates. Hey, you hadda be there.
The wood frog is able to withstand puddles freezing over, then come out singin’ his head off when the ice melts. Admittedly, the wood frog’s song is a bit understated -- understandable considering its throat pouch was ice crystals only hours earlier. I'll get some vids of wood frogs beneath ice.
Below: Believe it or not this wood frog is just fine ...
Important update on Bruce Hoagland (Bruce and Pat's) ... from Patricia TenEyck Hoagland:
Hello everyone, just thoght I'd keep every one up to date with Bruce. He is back in the hospital, He can not keep platelets, needs transfusions frequently and afraid of getting sick. He also needs blood transfusions. The doctor has dignosed him with Lukemia his MDS is the type that goes that way. He started He is in isolation again but this time it is much better, at least he is aware of his surroundings. He has the best of care. Will keep you posted.
March monthly special!!! The Fire River Minnow, This one was all Svetlana Ferdinandova ideas and paint and hair schemes gotta give the partner some say once in a while sold a dozen at show so not many left we have 5 2 ozers 7 1.5 ozers 6 3/4 and 6 5/8th left little cheaper this month 2 larger sizes 6.50$ and smaller 6$ shipping 6$ thanks and good luck!!!
|Weather and Songbird Migration: March 4, 2015|
The first migrants of 2105 have arrived! While we are still in the grip of winter, a few days of southerly winds have allowed a few migrants to trickle in. In Texas, Purple Martins and Tree Swallows were seen. Tree Swallows also showed up in southern Georgia, while a birder in Louisiana saw the first Ruby-throated Hummingbird. A few migrants also showed up out West, with Black-chinned Hummingbird, Lucy’s Warbler, and Bullock’s Oriole all being reported in Arizona.
About Harsh Weather and Fallouts
Many birds cross the Gulf of Mexico during migration. The crossing is a 1,500 mile, 18-hour non-stop flight. When these birds reach the Gulf Coast, they are already exhausted. If they encounter rain or headwinds, it makes flying even more difficult, so they quickly land in very large numbers—hence the term “fallout.”
Birders always look for fallouts because they can see large numbers of a wide variety of species. Watching the weather map helps you know whether a fallout might be coming. What's in store?
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Canadian Press] - March 4, 2015 -
HALIFAX, The Nova Scotia government is investigating the death of some salmon at three aquaculture sites to determine if disease was a factor.
However, Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell issued a statement Tuesday saying preliminary findings suggest the fish were killed by extremely cold water temperatures.
The sites, operated by New Brunswick's Cooke Aquaculture, are at Shelburne Harbour, Jordan Bay and Port Wade.
Company spokeswoman Nell Halse says it's unclear how many fish have died, though she says the majority of the salmon at the three sites are fine.
The minister says coastal waters typically remain above freezing during the winter, but every five to seven years cold air can cause shallow ocean water to drop below -0.7 C, the temperature at which fish blood freezes.
As well, tides in late February and early March also tend to be high, contributing to lower temperatures in sea cages.
"Fish survive temperatures below zero but a phenomenon known as super-chill may occur and result in fish mortalities,'' Halse said in an email.
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Bangor Daily News] By Matthew Stone - March 4, 2015 -
The lobster is in its boom years on the Maine coast, and no one knows precisely why, scientifically speaking, or how long the boom will last.
Maine lobstermen had a record year in 2014, hauling in $456.9 million worth of the popular crustacean. While the actual amount of lobster landed was slightly below 2013 totals — 123.7 million pounds in 2014, down from 127.8 million a year earlier — the value of the catch shot up 23 percent.
Throughout the history of Maine’s lobster fishery, the total catch has never been as high as it has been over the past five years. In the 1960s, the annual catch hovered around 20 million pounds, according to the Department of Marine Resources. It wasn’t until 1991 when the fishery cracked the 30 million-pound mark. It cracked 40 million in 1997, then 50 million in 1999. In 2002, lobstermen hauled in 63.6 million pounds, and that high mark is only about half what today’s lobstermen catch.
“The lobster industry is an enigma,” said Brian Beal, a professor of marine ecology at the University of Maine at Machias and a former lobsterman. “It’s an enigma biologically, and it’s an enigma historically.”
There are factors that can explain growth in Maine’s lobster population, but nothing that definitively explains today’s lobster boom. Similarly, there’s limited insight into how long these lobster bounties will persist.
“We should know a lot more about the answers to why we are where we are and how long it will last,” Beal said.
Here’s some of what we do know:
— Lobsters thrive in cold water, and they’re thriving in the Gulf of Maine even though it’s an epicenter for oceanic warming. Since 2004, the Gulf of Maine has warmed faster than 99.85 percent of the world’s oceans, according to Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
Fishermen have noticed the effects of a gradually warming ocean for a while. While a number of cold-water species — cod, haddock and shrimp, for example — are increasingly off-limits to fishermen, those who depend on the ocean for a living are noticing warmer-water species flowing into the Gulf of Maine: black sea bass, Maryland blue crab, red hake, turbot, squid, dogfish and others.
As warming oceans contribute to the decline of some cold-water Gulf of Maine species, the warming could be helping lobsters. Lobstermen in the Gulf of Maine are finding females maturing and bearing eggs earlier in life, increasing their reproductive success, Beal said. In the 1980s, egg-bearing lobsters barely measuring a pound were only found farther south in warmer waters, such as in Long Island Sound, according to Beal.
The warming oceans have also done a number on some of the lobster’s traditional predators: groundfish. The cod is one of the lobster’s most common predators early in the crustacean’s life, but cod are increasingly hard to come by in the Gulf of Maine.
— Lobstermen have caught lobster in record numbers in the past three years, but where they’re catching them has changed. The lobster catch in Maine’s southern counties hasn’t dropped off in raw numbers, but it hasn’t seen the spike Maine counties up the coast have. In 1997, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the lobster catch in Washington and Hancock counties accounted for 27.4 percent of the Maine’s total lobster catch by weight; York and Cumberland counties’ share was 24.8 percent. In 2014, Hancock and Washington brought in 53.1 percent of the lobster catch while York and Cumberland counties brought in 12.7 percent.
Connecticut and Rhode Island, meanwhile, have watched their lobster fisheries collapse over the past 15 years as the action has shifted to cooler waters up north.
— Lobsters are finding hospitable habitat in the Gulf of Maine. Lobsters like to hide out in kelp, and sea urchins like to feed on the algae. And sea urchins were generally plentiful in the Gulf of Maine, and largely unfished, meaning they were eating lots of lobster habitat, Beal said. Then, the urchin fishery took off in the late 1980s, reaching a 41.6 million-pound peak in 1993.
“The sea urchin fishery took off, then it became a boom and bust,” Beal said.
A decade after peaking, the sea urchin fishery fell to 6 million pounds. Today, fishermen take in less than 2 million pounds of urchin. That means lots more kelp for lobsters.
— After the lobster, Maine’s second-largest fishery by weight is the lobster’s bait, Atlantic herring. The herring is the most popular type of bait for lobstermen, further highlighting the lobster’s increasing dominance over Maine’s fisheries. (The lobster fishery already accounts for 69 percent of the value brought in by Maine’s fisheries.)
Herring are a critical cog in the lobstering wheel. They don’t just act as bait to entice lobsters into traps. Because of the vast quantity of lobster traps and the hundreds of millions of pounds of herring lobstermen use as bait, herring are also a critical lobster food source.
A 2010 study published in the journal PLOS One found that lobsters with year-round access to herring as bait grew 15 percent faster than lobsters without constant access. The researchers calculated that the herring-induced weight gain added $25 million in value to Maine’s annual lobster landings.
While herring are generally abundant in the Gulf of Maine, they are another species that depends on the gulf’s cold-water habitat. Warming waters, along with the continued potential to be overfished, could put the herring, lobster’s No. 1 bait source, at long-term risk.
— The regulation of Maine lobsters is regarded as a success. If the success of Maine’s lobster fishery doesn’t last, it won’t be due to a failure of regulation. Since the mid-1990s, Maine has managed its lobster fishery using co-management — a system that largely formalized many of the conservation-oriented practices lobstermen had employed for decades. In each zone, an elected council of lobstermen can recommend rules — generally, conservation measures — to the commissioner of marine resources. The lobster’s success can, in part, be owed to that responsible, shared management system.
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [NPR] By Alastair Bland - March 4, 2015 -
For decades, sharks have gotten a raw deal on the high seas, where fishermen have butchered them alive by the hundreds of millions and thrown their carcasses overboard, keeping only the prized fins to sell to Asian markets. This gruesome practice — called finning — has come under fire from conservationists, who say the shark fin trade has decimated species like silky, oceanic whitetip and dusky sharks around the world.
Where have all those fins gone? They're a base ingredient in shark fin soup, a traditional Chinese dish that is today both esteemed and, increasingly, scorned as a symbol of wanton waste and cruelty.
Now, thanks in part to publicity campaigns condemning the delicacy, imports of shark fins into Hong Kong, historically a major market, have dropped by 29 percent since 2011. That's according to new research published in the journal Biological Conservation. This dip comes in the wake of new laws around the world that make it illegal to sell shark fins.
But it may be a bit early to celebrate. Sharks are still being overfished, according to several researchers who study them. And while the trade in shark fins may be down, the trade in shark meat, it turns out, is going strong.
As The Salt reported in August, sharks like mako and blacktip were hot menu items in the U.S. during Discovery Channel's hugely popular television series "Shark Week." And according to an analysis by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, imports of shark meat around the world increased by 42 percent from 2000 to 2011.
And the shark finning bans could have something to do with it.
Shelley Clarke, an independent researcher based in Japan and coauthor of the Biological Conservation study (and a less technical companion paper), says bans on finning could actually be driving new markets for shark flesh. That, she speculates, is because in places where sharks were once de-finned and their carcasses dumped at sea, now whole sharks are being delivered to port. While their fins would remain the more valued item, it is likely that fishermen may be selling the meat and creating new appetites for a product that wasn't before utilized – bad news for sharks.
In still other places where the meat has long been consumed, including Mexico's Sea of Cortez, demand for it remains the same.
In the U.S., conservation campaigns have produced a handful of state-by-state bans on sale of shark fins. And the new fishing regulations have been lauded as effective advances in shark conservation efforts.
According to Jonathan Gonzalez, a Santa Barbara sustainability activist who lobbied for the California-wide 2012 ban on selling shark fins, the bill "did not save a single shark from our local gillnet fleet. State-by-state fin bans are a feel-good step."
But Gonzalez's main objective in backing the legislation was to deal a blow to foreign fisheries that sold fins — even fins of widely protected species like the great white — in places like San Francisco's Chinatown. Foreign shark fisheries, he says, can be especially problematic due to their lack of transparency, especially if fins are brought to port detached from the shark. This makes it almost impossible for scientists to track which species are being fished.
Gonzalez says that virtually every shark landed in an American port today is sold for its meat, not its fins. And in the Sea of Cortez, shrimp trawlers who accidentally catch sharks have traditionally brought the entire animal ashore, as both the meat and fins have value, according to Maria Johnson, a conservation fellow with Prescott College's Kino Bay fishery research program. In such fisheries, bans on finning and on the sale of the fins would have no effect.
Sonja Fordham, president of the The Ocean Foundation's Shark Advocates International project has worked for years on implementing finning bans. She admits that banning finning doesn't necessarily reduce shark mortality.
"It's just a sensible first step [toward shark conservation] to get the ball rolling," Fordham tells The Salt. A worldwide ban on killing threatened species of sharks would be more effective, she says.
But even such rules will not guarantee that sharks released after capture will survive. Clarke has reported that sharks accidentally caught, then released, face great odds of mortality — as high as 84 percent.
While few, if any, shark advocates trivialize the importance of recent shark fin-related restrictions, Peter Knights, executive director of Wild Aid, says regulations won't help sharks if demand for the animals is not eventually dampened. "Just like with elephants, tigers, rhinos — if the financial incentive to break the law is too strong, the protective measures will fail," Knights says.
Fortunately, education campaigns that highlight the environmental consequences of eating certain shark species, as well as health consequences of eating sharks with high mercury content, seem to have had some impact. According to Clarke's research, shark fin sales in Asia have plunged as the increasingly taboo delicacy has become shunned where it was once relished.
Gonzalez, who runs a website called Eat U.S. Seafood, says he thinks that overall there's been progress.
"I'm just happy I can walk into a shop in [San Francisco's] Chinatown now and not see imported fins of great white sharks," he says.