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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Saturday, August 28, 2010: Waves: Building 3- to 4-foot easterly swell. The swell transition is taking place. We’re showing long-period swells this early a.m. and it’ll be building all day, getting …

Saturday, August 28, 2010: Waves: Building 3- to 4-foot easterly swell.

The swell transition is taking place. We’re showing long-period swells this early a.m. and it’ll be building all day, getting quite tricky by late-day and very tricky tomorrow.

The fishing will not be nearly as tricky. It’s fluking and more fluking. John H. had an interesting ocean day yesterday, taking 5 keepers in succession. I can’t say I heard anyone do that all summer. And it wasn’t like he had a banner day. Outside of that amazing stretch he had a slow bite. John’s fish went from 20 to 25 inches I’ve heard fluke-ologists say that fluke of similar size often run together. That makes some since when you consider the cannibalistic nature of this fish.

Bluefish are becoming a lot more obvious, especially with boats moving out to deeper ocean water or larger fluke. There are even choppers mixed in. There are still fluke in the bay.

I had some mahi (and fresh squid) dropped off from folks who had a “great day” offshore. The tuna they got went to “sponsoring” the trip – and a couple more trips to come. The boat apparently has a (commercial) permit for tuna. The price remains very nice, indeed, via Philadelphia restaurants. Even the racks get sold. This makes sense; tons of meat to be boiled off.

I had an email from a fellow who was pleasantly surprised with the way gasline prices held steady all summer. I balked at this – openly. It is actually a prime example of how artificially pumped up those prices can be. The industry would have loved to have done their usual summer price gouging, allegedly due to rising oil prices. However, the Gulf spill had customers around the world furious at the entire oil-producing industry, so, magically, the price at pump remained kindly all summer. That was purely out of fear of the public mood. No need to shed any tears for the oil industry, it made quadrillions atop billions, even without gouging. Of course, BP’s seeming move to quietly slip out of Gulf responsibility – by offering one-time buyout of everyone who can sue them – will surely leave a bad taste in the mouth of the public for years to come, as any long-term negative environmental impacts develop.

By the by, it now seems that the main reason the oil spill was contained (dissipated) was thanks to a little thing states like California have known about for decades: microbes. Those buggers have been downing naturally occurring oil seepage since times imperial. They actually proliferate to meet the demand, creating what amounts to incredibly useful bloom. BP should offer microbes some sort of lifetime membership in the exclusive clubs oil-producing chieftains frequent.

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Odd news release:

New Bedford Standard Times] By Steve Urbon - Aug 26, 2010

NEW BEDFORD Ñ Once overfished, spiny dogfish are now so plentiful in the waters of New England and the Mid-Atlantic that fishermen have reached the current catch limit after three months instead of six.

That triggered an announcement Wednesday by Patricia Kurkel, regional administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, that the fishery for dogfish will close at midnight Friday and stay closed until the second half of the regulatory year starts in November.

Recovery efforts for the small shark have been so successful that dogfish have become a nuisance, say fishermen and scientists.

They are by far the most abundant species to be brought up by NOAA's research nets, said Dr. Brian Rothschild, the dean emeritus of the UMass School of Marine Science and Technology. Twenty times as much dogfish by weight was recorded compared to the next most abundant species, redfish, he said.

Rothschild, who chairs the mayor's fishery advisory committee, remarked, 'One has to wonder about an ecosystem that has such a dominant number of small sharks.'

'The exploitation rate for dogfish is extremely small relative to other species,' he said.

The new restrictions require fishing boats to discard all dogfish until November. NOAA's website says dogfish have a very high survival rate for being caught and thrown back, unlike other species that generally die in the bycatch process.

Fishermen are increasingly frustrated by the dogfish, which are a top predator. Hook and line fishermen have been reporting hauling in lines with a mutilated or half-missing cod on every hook, thanks to the dogfish.

'They'll eat the catches in the nets,' boat owner Linda McCann said.

Dogfish, however, are of very little value, perhaps 25 cents per pound, McCann said. When the fishery is open, boats will take them (up to a 3,000-pound limit per trip) but would rather catch something else in the hopes of discarding the dogfish before landing.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports there is very little market for dogfish in the United States. Most of it is shipped to Europe, where it is widely used as the fish in fish and chips, according to NOAA.

Rothschild said the dogfish population, like scallops, may have reached a saturation point and is now self-limiting.

Because of the huge population, NOAA this year increased the annual catch level from 12 million pounds to 15 million pounds.

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[Boston Globe] by Emily Sweeney - Aug 26, 2010

© 2010 New York Times Company. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All Rights Reserved.

It was a warm July day in 1936, and 16-year-old Joseph C. Troy Jr. was spending the weekend at his uncle's house in Mattapoisett. It was Sunday afternoon; Troy decided to go for a swim before returning home to Dorchester with his parents. So he joined his uncle's friend, Walter Styles, waded into the waters at Hollywood Beach, and began to swim. They had only been in the water for a few minutes, and were about 150 yards from the shore, when they noticed a dark fin cutting through the water. The shark circled the pair slowly, and then suddenly bit Troy's legs, pulling him underwater. Styles cried for help and dove beneath the surface several times, frantically trying to free the teen from the shark's jaws.

A few seconds later, Troy's limp, bloodied body bobbed up to the surface. He was unconscious, with wounds on his arms, hands, and legs. The shark, believed to be a great white, swam away, not to be seen again. Troy would never make it back to his apartment at 514 Talbot Ave. in Dorchester; he died a few hours later at St. Luke's Hospital.

That horrific scene, as reported in the July 26, 1936, Boston Sunday Globe, has not been repeated in New England, but it has been referenced quite a few times recently following recent shark sightings off the coast of the Bay State.

On June 28, after a great white was caught by anglers on Stellwagen Bank, about 20 miles off the coast of Scituate, state officials held a news conference and urged beachgoers to take basic precautions: Never swim alone; don't swim at dawn or dusk; and avoid swimming near seals, because great whites like to eat them.

Ian Bowles, the state secretary of energy and environmental affairs, also made it a point to urge perspective.

'I want to remind the public it has been more than 70 years since a fatal white shark attack occurred in Massachusetts,' he said.

But while attacks are indeed rare, the number of white shark sightings off the coast of Massachusetts is climbing - a trend the state's top shark expert, Gregory Skomal, anticipates will continue.

'White shark sightings have become more prevalent,' said the Marion resident, who heads the state's shark research program. On Sept. 5 and 8, 2009, five white sharks were tagged near Monomoy Island off Chatham, where the growing seal population is a dinner bell for great whites. This summer, three more white sharks were tagged in Massachusetts coastal waters; there was also a reported sighting of a great white attacking a seal close to the beach on the Cape Cod National Seashore last Friday.

The state Division of Marine Fisheries, which records shark sightings and compiles the data, says that in 1999 there were two confirmed white shark sightings in Massachusetts; the following year, there was one. Compare that with 2008, when there were eight confirmed white shark sightings, and 2009, which had 31 sightings.

The stats for 2010 have yet to tabulated, but Skomal said last week he expects they will exceed last year's total.

Specialists say the increased sightings around Chatham are probably linked to the larger number of seals on Monomoy Island. The seal population there has grown steadily ever since the animal - a favorite meal for a hungry great white - gained protection under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act. More sightings are made in summer and fall, when the area's water temperatures are more to the shark's liking, the experts say.

Tracking sharks is part of Skomal's job. By studying the various species that swim in local waters and understanding what's out there, the Division of Marine Fisheries can advise local authorities and develop better management practices. By tagging sharks, Skomal and other researchers can collect important information about their lives, learning where they swim, how deep the water is where they live, and the temperatures they prefer.

Skomal follows up on reports of dead sharks (such as the 20-foot basking shark that washed ashore last week at Plymouth's White Horse Beach) as well as reports of live ones.

So what should people do if they spot a shark?

'We certainly appreciate it if they report it to us,' said Skomal. 'If they could get a picture or video, snap away. . . . And if you're in the water with a shark, then my advice is, get out of the water.'

Getting a detailed description is key - and shooting photos and video is even better. It makes things much easier for Skomal. After all, the great white (Carcharodon carcharias) is just one of more than a dozen shark species that cruise in and out of New England waters each year.

Investigating shark sightings is not easy, as the fish is usually long gone by the time the biologist arrives on the scene.

'We get phone calls every summer,' said Skomal. 'They can range the full spectrum, from someone who took photos of a shark to somebody who saw what they thought looked like a shark from a couple hundred yards away.'

Eyewitness accounts are often vague, but the researchers also get their share of detailed reports from experienced fishermen and professional spotter pilots who know what to look for.

'Typically somebody sees a fish, we talk to them about it, and we try to get a sense of what it was,' said Skomal.

Interestingly, the number of reported sightings tends to go up if sharks are featured in the news and on television (such as Shark Week on the Discovery Channel), he said. 'A lot depends on what's going on, mediawise.'

One recent report Skomal investigated came from Horseneck Beach in Westport, which was closed Aug. 5 for a day after a lifeguard spotted a fin in the water about 80 yards from the beach. Around the same time, there was a shark sighting further offshore - someone fishing for bluefish reported seeing a shark with a long tail.

Descriptive details and characteristics - like a long tail, or, say, a floppy dorsal fin - are important clues that help Skomal piece together what kind of shark it was. A longer tail means it was probably a thresher shark, which would make sense, because they typically feed on bluefish, said Skomal. But it's also possible that it was a blue shark or sand tiger shark.

'It's hard to say,' said Skomal. 'Working with eyewitness accounts is tough. It's very difficult because everybody sees something different. In this case, we had very little to go on.'

The sighting was recorded as an unidentified shark.

The Division of Marine Fisheries says sightings should be called in to 508-910-6329. Include the date, location, and time of day of the sighting, as well as a description of the shark: its estimated length, condition, the color and look of its tail and dorsal fin, and any other characteristics. And, if possible, take photos and video.

'Those kinds of simple observations are helpful,' said Skomal.

The many recent great white sightings aren't surprising to Tom King, a local shark expert who leads fishing charters out of Scituate and runs the website www.newenglandsharks.com.

The fact that the white shark is a protected species has helped increase their numbers, said King, 75.

'I think that may be paying off.' Years ago, 'those fish would have been dead on a dock and their jaws cut out of them.'

The buzz around great whites is partly due to their celebrity status, he said. Great whites are the most well known - and most feared - predator of the sea due to the 1975 blockbuster movie 'Jaws,' which spawned three terrifying sequels, and made moviegoers afraid of the water.

But, its formidable reputation aside, the shark rarely attacks humans. The odds of being bitten by one anywhere in the world are less than 1 in 300 million - people are more likely to be struck by lightning.

King's website features detailed accounts about the few shark attacks that have occurred in New England, including the one that killed Joseph Troy. King said the boy's fatal encounter with a great white 74 years ago was a case of being at 'the wrong place, at the wrong time.'

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Friday, August 27, 2010: 2- to 3-foot east swell, building quickly over the weekend.

How about that nip in the air early today? I zipped out to do my rip current report and it was both a pleasant change and a timely reminder that changes are brewing. However, we’ll be seeing hot and muggy again as the weekend moves along – then the swells arrive.

Hurricane waves are already generated and heading our way. Astronomical conditions are fair to good for wave transport so we could see some 6- to 8-foot groundswells, mainly be Sunday, though initial waves could be breaking by as early as tomorrow. Per usual, hurricane swells are super tricky in the way they can lay down and appear to be AWOL, only to arrive with a vengeances – right as you’re working your way across some tricky inlet waters.

Water temps will be very mild this weekend, emaninhg we’re no closer to any significant blues or bass.

I did a short night session over at the Causeway bridges last night and had only very solid take on a chartreuse plastic tail on a ¾-ounce jighead. Missed and didn’t have a touch thereafter. Lots of surface blue claw action and some herring splashes.

Emails: Jay,

How are ya? Yes, I'm still alive! Sorry for the lack of reports this summer, but truth be told, I have been remodeling my house every weekend since spring striper season ended. I want my house 100% complete so when the market comes around, we are selling and heading for The Banks full time. Unless Holgate make a full return!!! I … fished with my dad on his boat out of AC. We went out for some fluke and caught a few throwbacks and some bluefish. The story of the day was we needed fresh bait and we did some seining. We hit a local bay beach inside of Absecon Inlet and caught a bunch of nice spearing. But the interesting thing was all the 2-6" kingfish that were mixed in. Hundreds of them...never seen anything like that before. We quickly got them back in the water and moved to a different area. Hopefully that bodes well for the future. We're off the The Banks for some surfing and fishing and I'll send some reports along. I'll be back around Sept. 15th and I'll see you out on the beach.

Joe H

(Life should be good on the Outer Banks. I always thought I’d end there but it would just take too damn long to be considered a “local” down there. I have to stay where I actually am one.

As to those kingfish, I’ve noticed a good hatch this year but I have no doubt they will eventually get slaughtered by shrimpers, once the kingfish get large enough – and shrimp trawls have a surprisingly small mesh. J-mann)

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[HealthDay News] - August 25, 2010 - Scientists have discovered a link between vitamin D and genes related to autoimmune diseases and cancer.

The finding may explain why vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for a number of serious illnesses, including multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, according to researchers from the United Kingdom and Canada.

In the study, Sreeram Ramagopalan of Oxford University and colleagues noted there is a growing amount of evidence that vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for a wide range of diseases, but it's not known exactly how vitamin D is involved. It has been suspected that genetics may contribute to this connection.

Vitamin D has an effect on genes through the vitamin D receptor, which binds to specific locations on the human genome to influence gene expression (the process by which a gene's information is converted into the structures operating in a cell). In this study, the researchers mapped sites of vitamin D receptor binding -- information that can be used to identify disease-related genes that might be influenced by vitamin D.

The investigators found that vitamin D receptor binding is significantly enhanced in regions of the human genome associated with several common autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and Crohn's disease, and in regions associated with cancers such as leukemia and colorectal cancer.

The findings, published in the Aug. 23 online edition of the journal Genome Research, highlight the serious risks associated with vitamin D deficiency, especially for people who may be genetically predisposed to be sensitive to vitamin D deficiency, the study authors explained in a news release from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

'Considerations of vitamin D supplementation as a preventative measure for these diseases are strongly warranted,' Ramagopalan stated in the news release.

People should consume between 200 and 600 international units of vitamin D daily, according to a U.S. Institute of Medicine guideline, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 400 international units daily. The U.S. guideline is currently under review, and many experts have called for an increase in the recommended intake levels.

Exposure to sunlight triggers the body to naturally produce vitamin D, although it can be hard to get enough in some regions during certain parts of the year. Vitamin D is also found in certain foods, such as fish, cheese, egg yolks and fortified milk and breakfast cereals.

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