Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Thursday, January 06, 2022: Next week The SandPaper resumes. Hope to see all your intent faces looking in on my fishing column ...

Off Duty 

Thursday, January 06, 2022: Next week The SandPaper resumes. Hope to see all your intent faces looking in on my fishing column. I’ll know since starting this year I’ll be using ultra-submicro-cameras -- no bigger than a period -- or the dot of an i. I’ll place maybe a dozen of them on the street. No, it’s not invasive. It will simply allow me to look in on a few readers, you know, to see their facial expressions when reading the column. Not to worry. I won’t look around the room or anything, though I highly suggest not leaving the paper open to my column.  

VACAY FAIL: I wish I could say I’m rested after a couple weeks away from the weekly grind. Nope. I failed to properly destress since there was a load of stuff going on -- some good, some lousy, and a scattering godawful.

I keep having close friends checking out on me. May they rest in peace – and maybe give me a ring from  the beyond if possible. I'm kinda into that from hereafter-to-here stuff. 

As I ready for 2022, I’m duly girding for another frantic year behind the keyboard. In many ways, immersing in writing is my off way of escaping from the outside world, even though that same outer world is from whence the news exudes, thus I thrive on input from readers ... just like you. 

This is my way of inviting communiques on newsish issues and such. I’m very good at divvying stories out to my crack team of writers. Call me. 

A SICK RETREAT?: I have no doubt this year will offer yet another dose of pandemic angst, even though I see these highly ballyhooed mutations of CoV-2SARS as clear signs of this despicable virus starting to suffer in its own right -- going through mutations in a last-ditch effort to regain its fading glory, trying everything it can to modify and adapt to enemy antibodies.

Coronavirus Virus Sad - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

Each time the original COVID changes form, it grows weaker and weaker. Of course you won’t read much about the possible decline of COVID. Such news is counter to efforts by our government to achieve full vaccination saturation. Keeping folks scared as s*** is thought the best way to fosters jabs -- and follow-up boosters. Good news does not foster a scared-as-s*** state of mind. 

Spookily, keeping COVID alive and kicking has become the goal of many vax extremists, including some at the highest levels of government, who have unabashedly enlisted many media outlets to report only information utterly aligned with party lines on COVID. Some might see this as old-time propaganda.

Stating it more clearly, history will show our nation hit an epic low point in transparency by strong arming any news source that the government felt was not thoroughly aligned with its efforts to achieve vaccination supremacy.

Most tellingly, social media sites have found themselves being threatened by government agencies should they allow members to make comments contrary to strict party line thinking. I was once bumped from a social media site for simply mentioning a Noble Prize winning drug could very likely be useful in treating COVID. Since the drug was among banned terms, it fell under full censorship mandates, which has grown to include a slew of unspeakable terms. That's frickin' scary even for those of us who first accepted the noble essence of vaccinating. The ghosts of Pravda are laughing in their Russian graves. (Pravda, was the official propaganda organ of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1918 to 1991.)

Enough pandemic politicizing, though I daringly insist it would be marvelous if 2022 is the year C-19 meets its antibody match, be it through natural or manmade immunity. 

Victory, Royalty-free Victory Vector Images & Drawings | Depositphotos®

YOTE TRACKS: The snow showed the true colors of the coyote presence. They’re back in force, though hardly to the degree we saw in 2020.

Coyote Spotted Visiting Backyard

I responded to the scene of a cat killing in Surf City; a cat I knew and once photographed when it came up to me for a belly rub. The cat owner, a longtime oceanfront resident, has gotten a couple good ganders at what he is sure is the guilty coywolf. “It’s huge. It ate the cat like it was nothing.” The family only had the cat’s head and a paw to bury.

After getting the rundown on the cat downing, I eyed the residual tracks of the cat-eater in the snow -- and even more so in the sand next to nearby dune fencing. It’s a biggun to be sure.  

Deer Predators

The cat owner, who I’ve known for many years, has gone to the borough with his coyote concerns, highlighting the possibility the wild canine is large enough to down a child -- though such a thing is an infinitesimally low possibility. He also downplayed a trapper, hired by the town, who is trying for the coyote by setting up snares along the dune line. “A child could get caught,” the homeowner said of the traps.

Along with the Surf City sightings, I’ve gotten word of tracks in Beach Haven, Holgate and (possibly) Brant Beach -- the Brant Beach tracks looking more like fox prints.

By the by, if you’re wondering if your nape of the Island has prowling coyotes, simply go to the beach and look for tracks along the beach-facing portions of dune fencing. That is a common thoroughfare area for both foxes and coyotes. 

As to how the latest showing of coyotes is reaching LBI, more than ever I adhere to my original theory that they use the Causeway’s concrete and steel-barrier walkway. The road-facing steel barriers make that passage decently secretive for wildlife, including raccoons, possums, foxes, hares, and otters. I know that last one doesn't make sense since otters can swim across the entire bay without breaking a sweat, but a buddy saw a large otter plain as day, though at night, bolting along the walkway of the East Thoroughfare Bridge, between LBI and Cedar Bonnet Island.

Running Otter Photograph by Alex England

Might the new walkway and the cover it offers keep wild canines in our hood for the future? Sure. As to those arriving coyotes fanning out once on LBI, even a coyote moving at a slow gait can reach either end of the Island in a single night – if not sooner.

If I didn’t fear theft, I’d place a trail cam on the Causeway walkway. However, the major daily showing of human walkway walkers would require hours of sorting through the motion-activated footage. What’s more, wildlife using the walkway would only show once a week at most.

I have to again invoke the wrath of many cat owner by stating the obvious, namely, keep your feline pets inside lest they become tartare.   

Speaking of a proper prey for coyotes, it would seem the insane showing of Canada geese would fill the predatory bill to a T, offering more eats than all the state’s coyotes could ever consume, while adding a new twist to eating on the fly. If only it was that easy.

There’s a reason Canada geese – constantly unloosing droppings the size of a small dog -- have become so overpopulated. They are as clever at survival as any creature out there. Not only do they know to head for the protection of water or predator-free sedges after dark, but every flock has watchdog members among them, always on guard and ready to honk a warning at the drop of a hat.

What’s more, geese have a proven ability to sleep with one eye open. Technically, this type of slumber is called unihemispheric sleep.

In a scholarly paper titled “Unihemispheric Sleep and Asymmetrical Sleep…” researcher Gian Gastone Mascetti explains, “Certain species of birds show a different sleep behavior, in which one cerebral hemisphere sleeps while the other is awake. … Unihemispheric sleep allows them to have the benefits of sleep, breathing, thermoregulation, and vigilance. … Antipredation vigilance is the main function of unihemispheric sleep.”

By the by, even one of the smartest creatures out there, dolphin, also display this unihemispheric sleep ability. And it’s vital since if a dolphin were to fall fully sleep … it'll drown.

A us.whales.org article, titled How Do dolphins Sleep,” explains, “Dolphins only allow one half of their brains to sleep at a time; the other half stays alert to enable the dolphin to continue breathing and look out for dangers in the environment. Dolphins only close one eye when they sleep; the left eye will be closed when the right half of the brain sleeps, and vice versa. … Dolphins alternate which half of the brain is sleeping periodically so that they can get the rest they need without ever losing consciousness.”

Why Do Dolphins Sleep With One Eye Closed? - You Ask We Answer

Buyer Pays $145,000 for Tuna at Toyosu Fish Market’s First Auction of 2022

January 6, 2022

Big money is always spent at Tokyo’s Toyosu fish market during the New Year auction, and this year was no different. According to reports, a buyer bought a bluefin tuna for $145,000.

Restaurant operator Onodera Group and wholesaler Yamayuki were said to have jointly gone in on the tuna, which cost them 16.88 million yen. AFP Tokyo reports that the 2022 New Year sale is “far below” the 2019 record of 333.6 million yen.

The tuna in question was caught off the northern Aomori region of Japan and weighed an impressive 465 pounds.

“I participated in the auction hoping to get the top-priced tuna, which is considered auspicious, and serve it to our customers to brighten their year ahead a little, even as our world remains marred by the pandemic,” head chef Akifumi Sakagami told AFP.

And tuna lovers don’t have to be in Tokyo to get a bite of the tuna. According to Chef Sakagami, some of the tuna will also be sent to the firm’s restaurants in Hawaii, New York and Los Angeles.

Onodera Group and Yamayuki got quite the deal on the bluefin tuna when considering the price at auction in previous years. In 2020 Kiyoshi Kimura, also known as the “Tuna King,” paid $1.8 million (183 million yen) to purchase a 608-pound bluefin tuna. In 2019 the Tuna King paid a record-setting $3.1 million (333.6 million yen) for a 612 pound bluefin tuna.

Hundreds of Striped Bass Wash Up Dead in Northern Cape Breton

Getting here - Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Copyright © 2022 CBC/Radio-Canada
By Tom Ayers

January 5, 2022

University biologists say striped bass that recently washed ashore in northern Cape Breton probably died from a sudden temperature change in the ocean.

A video posted to the Port Morien Wildlife Association's Facebook page on Monday shows what looks like hundreds of dead fish in North Bay, near Dingwall, N.S.

Trevor Avery, a biology professor and lead researcher with the Striped Bass Research Team at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., said he doesn't know for sure what happened.

However, he said, it's not uncommon for fish in relatively warm water near the surface to get forced into colder water down below when the temperature changes all of a sudden.

"About 20 years ago there was a big bay full of cod up in Newfoundland that flash froze because of ice crystals raining down on them from one of these turnover events," Avery said. "Same sort of thing. You've got a bunch of ice crystals in the water and then they sort of sink down."

Avery said striped bass have a kind of antifreeze in their cells, but that doesn't help when the temperature change is like a shock.

"If the fish is in a certain temperature of water, say five degrees, something like that, and then it goes to zero degrees with this sort of slurry, it's like taking a fish and then sticking it in an ice bath," he said.

"They might not be able to recover quickly enough from that."

Fish kills rare but not uncommon

Cape Breton University biologist Bruce Hatcher said natural weather events that kill fish are not rare, but not common, either.

"We had one of those in the Bras d'Or Lake a few years ago with mackerel," he said. "It's known as a superchill."

similar event happened with striped bass near Pictou, N.S., in 2013. Researchers later said it was caused by a sudden temperature change when Nova Scotia Power briefly stopped putting warm water from the Trenton electricity plant into the harbour, but the power company disputed that assessment.

Avery said he is trying to get samples of the dead fish from Dingwall, but called it "highly unlikely" there would be any proof of the cause of death.

He said freezing samples to be shipped to a lab for examination would make that difficult.

However, Avery said it would be important to determine which population of striped bass was affected by the kill.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada had deemed the St. Lawrence River population to be extinct, however in recent years, the fish have made a comeback in the river.

Avery said about a million striped bass are in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but there is another group that lives mostly off the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and another population that lives further south, off the U.S. coast.

It would also be good to know where the populations regularly overwinter, Avery said.

Due to its salt content, ocean water can go below zero, he said, so many striped bass move into freshwater for the winter, where the temperature is not as cold.

"The overwintering grounds of striped bass is ... not completely unknown, but we don't know all of the places," Avery said.

Avery said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would likely also be looking into the fish kill.

In an email, DFO confirmed it was aware of the "mortality event," and said it had determined there were no projects or industrial activities underway that would have caused it.

"Fishery Officers are gathering samples of the striped bass for further physiological analysis by DFO Science," wrote spokeswoman Lauren Sankey.

"It should be noted that mortality events can be the result of natural die-offs. Cape Breton is at the northern range of this particular species and therefore, local populations can be more susceptible to conditions such as rapid temperature changes."

Sankey also noted that Environment and Climate Change Canada would follow up to assess water quality in the area.

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