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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Thursday, November 02, 2017: South winds ... John Matt weighed in a monster 51.5″ inch 48 pound

Per Fisherman's Headquarters ... 

48# Bass Off The Surf

This afternoon striped bass took the lead in the LBI Surf Fishing Classic and the Fish Head Striped Bass Calcutta.

At weigh in John said, “I’m on the beach everyday. It’s been slow but there’s some fish here. It’s starting up.  Drove the beach and found a nice bowl that was holding water at low tide. Set up and planned to fish the flood tide. At about 1:30pm, a half hour in, one rod with a small bunker chunk  with a short wire leader (rigged up for bluefish) had a bump. I picked it up and felt another tug so I set the hook and it began! It was mean! What a battle! Got it to the beach and we were both beat. I’ve been fishing the Long Beach Island surf for a long time. Got 20’s and 30’s but never a fish of this class. It’s my trophy.”

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When getting bored cutting firewood ... though I prefer lighting all three on fire. 

Then there's the buddy napping instead of cutting wood ... 

Image result for chainsaw kids halloween dad gifs

And how about the kids ... who had just binged on Chainsaw Massacre movies ...  

Image result for what kids halloween dad gifs

Then there's getting even with the gangbangers who harassed you earlier ... 

Halloween Jason chainsaw prank

Of course, there are the pitfalls of messing with black folks who aren't all that hep on Halloween ... 

QSOfDuL

Thursday, November 02, 2017: South winds aren’t helping clean the ocean much but just the natural process have taken the water from brown to slightly green, easily clean enough for bass to find bait. I have a feeling this weekend could see some successful stripering – based on reports from just to our north. However, it could be a boat-based initial bite, which is good for the Maximilian boat bassing tourney this Saturday. See http://www.themaximilianfoundation.org/content-files/uploads/2017/1...

One lightly tapped fishery that remains scalding hot is blue claw crabs, backbay. A neighbor had 66 beauties, all fattened for winter. I might get some paddies from his effort.

The first gannets have shown, though only a few. Out of chronic optimism, I like to think their arrival bodes well for bassing. Obviously, the fact the gannet come in November makes for a high likelihood of bass and birds sorta flocking together.

Speaking of birds – which I do often – below are some photos of a swarm of great blue heron that showed up in Holgate in one felled swoop. It was a bit odd since these are mainly bayside birds. However, I have taken photos of them travelling in big flocks, as many as 20 in V-formation. I’m actually not sure where they migrate to but they are surely headed somewhere. To be sure, a few hang around here all winter. On three separate occasions, I’ve broken them out of ice. I’ve written how thankless they are over my effort. Man, can those things go batty when approached. What’s more, they bite from a distance! Those long necks are so snake-like that I use my herpetology training to neck-grab them before deicing. I’ve still gotten jabbed/bitten one good.

Off subject, congrats to the Houston Astros. I would have been just as congratulatory to the Dodgers. It was a cool series to watch, especially potentially the greatest 6th game of all time. There’s never a World Series celebration that doesn’t get me chuckling over grown men going into a total kid-mode. Quite cool.

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Feel so good releasing big fish! She measured over 48" by far bigger than the 44 pounder from last year!! 

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Off the top of your head: What's now the most harvested recreational fish species in the US?

Personally, I'd go with fluke -- with bluefish another strong possibility.

Well, I'd be way wrong on the summer flounder guess. A little less so with bluefish. But I'd never guess that striped bass is not only America’s first-fish but it’s way ahead of the pack when it comes to take-home meat, netting almost twice the poundage of the Number Two species, mahi.

Here's the just-released top-five list: (By the by, not-included Alaska is huge in the commercial realm of fishing but not all that big on the fun-fishing side of things.)

Yes, the second-place mahi/dolphinfish showing seems sorta odd to me but I do see tons of photos of offshore trips scoring dolphin by the coolerful. At the same time, I might have placed tuna near the top but then I pondered the regulations. Tuna still made a good showing. Of course, striped bass regs can easily match tuna regs.

Focusing on the 1.6 million bass taken, I see that stat having a little something for everyone.

For me -- and a modest number of others -- it points to the fishery being one of the healthiest in the nation. I can also point to the numbers making a/my case that NJ anglers should have access to a smaller-than-28" bass. There is little doubt the 18-inchers being hogged up by the Chesapeake Nation account for a disproportionate share of that 1.6 million fish.

Looking from another angle, the top-spot being held by striped bass -- nowhere is there a mention of something called a rockfish -- fits very well into the rhetoric bandied about by folks fighting for stricter regs on bass. They'll say that 1.6 million fish is living proof that the species is being hit far too hard. They might also suggest – to round out the numbers – that there is surely as many as 400,000 bass being covertly kept. They won’t get an argument from me on that point, though NOAA's number-crunchers do, in fact, factor in fibbing and misreporting -- though surely not to the point of 400,000 fish. NOAA might be a tad naive there.

The bass numbers also work well with fishery management, which, for decades on end, has been gloating over its success in saving stripers. There, too, I can't argue the point. The striper recovery success story is one for the ages; the basis of many other similar efforts with sundry species.

Finally, aquaculture interests must see 1.9 million fish as proof positive that there is a hunger/market for the species, one that can be parlayed into a cash aquaculture crop, helped along by one of the faster growing fish in America. There is already a huge industry around so-called hybrid striped bass, a cross between the striped bass (Morone saxatilis) and the white bass (M. chrysops). Also, I came across this video of stripers being grown and hauled off to somewhere or other. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBVSWWLML7Q

Hybrid Striped Bass.jpg

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Tally's hauls big tuna from the woods

A 400-pound tuna is hauled from the woods off Revere Street in the Annisquam area of Gloucester.Courtesy photo

What would you do if you came across a 400-pound tuna in the woods? Perhaps a better question: What in the world was a dead tuna doing in the woods in the vicinity of Revere Street?

Those are just some of the questions the Massachusetts Environmental Police and NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement are trying to answer in their investigation of who dumped the headless giant tuna in the woods.

“I can’t really discuss it because it’s an ongoing investigation,” said Maj. Patrick Moran of the Environmental Police.

Ditto for NOAA Fisheries’ law enforcement folks.

“It’s an open investigation, so I can’t offer any details,” said Ally Rogers, a spokeswoman for OLE.

Not many other details were available Tuesday. The tuna fishing season runs from early June to November.

Neither agency would divulge who initially tipped off authorities to the presence of the deceased pelagic or how it was discovered in the first place. Nor would authorities say exactly when the tuna was recovered.

But once found, the Environmental Police contacted Tally’s, which sent up a wrecker to haul the tuna out of the woods and into the possession of authorities.

Moran was asked whether, in all his years of experience, he’d ever had to open an investigation into a tuna dumped in the woods.

“Never,” Moran said. “Not ever.”

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.

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WHERE ARE YOU GUYS?: With the season in mind, this is a very real reach-out to the three Civil War reenactment gentleman (one was a surfcaster, I recall) I talked with at length, quite a few years ago. Back then, you were reluctant to go public with the spine-chilling incident you once had while camping out near Gettysburg, when your group – four of you – woke in the middle of the night to see the ghostly, silverish images of an entire line of men, obviously soldiers, walking wearily in step, heads down. Not a sound. 

I still recall the lingering fear in your eyes as your recounted the incident to me. You can’t fake looks like those. 
Is it now time for me to write it up? I imagine most of you have retired by now, work being the reason you didn’t want to publicize the incident back then? 
I must add that, since then, I’ve read of numerous other folks seeing the same line of spirits near the Gettysburg battlefield – described exactly as you described them. 
The local reenactor who had your names passed away a number of years back. I’m hoping you’ll read this and contact me. I promise I’ll show the respect such an ordeal deserves.

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My Dinosaur 50” Bull Red

My Dinosaur 50” Bull Red

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New England/Mid-Atlantic Banner

==November 1, 2017

Study Reveals More Than a Third of Hong Kong Shark Fin Products Are From Threatened Species

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Star] by Ernest Kao - November 1, 2017

More than a third of shark fin products sold in Hong Kong shops come from species that are vulnerable or endangered, a landmark study employing new techniques of DNA analysis has found.

The report, published in scientific journal Conservation Biology on Tuesday, sheds new light on the city’s secretive domestic trade. It also provides fresh baseline data on what is being imported and sold at retail level in the world’s biggest shark fin trading hub.

“What surprised us was that some of the endangered species are the more common ones on the market,” research supervisor Dr Damien Chapman from Florida International University said.

"So when you have a bowl of shark's fin soup in Hong Kong, there's a reasonable probability that it came from an endangered species."

Between February 2014 and February 2015, scientists collected 4,800 random samples of shark fin trimmings from about 300 dried seafood shops mostly in Western district.

Using a sensitive DNA testing technique they developed, the team managed to trace the samples to 76 different species of shark.

Of these, 25 per cent have been assessed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, while 8 per cent are classified as “endangered” ­– both just three to four ranks away from “extinction” status. The union keeps track of animal and plant species worldwide, as well as measures to safeguard them. The red list assesses rare species on a seven-point scale.

While the relatively abundant blue shark is still the dominant species in the market – comprising 34 per cent of samples ­­– the endangered scalloped and great hammerheads and the vulnerable silky shark, bigeye thresher, shortfin mako and oceanic whitetip, were also found to be among the top 20 types.

Three species each of rays and chimaeras – a type of cartilaginous fish – were also found in samples and were being sold as shark fin.

At least nine of the species in the market are also listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Species listed under this category may be at risk of extinction unless proper controls are implemented on trade.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said only eight CITES Appendix II species were regulated in Hong Kong with a further four being processed. A spokesman said the department was already proposing an increase in maximum penalties concerning offences over Appendix II species.

The last study that looked into the species composition of fins in the industry was a survey in 1999, which only sampled a small subset based on auction records.

“The latest study provides a species list of the contemporary shark fin market which was not previously available to us,” Stan Shea, marine programme director at Bloom, said.

Shea suggested the government mandate proper labelling of shark fin products at retail level, step up monitoring by allowing only some ports to load and unload wildlife products and increase penalties for the illegal trade of endangered species.

Hong Kong traders have long insisted that up to 80 per cent of their products comprised fins from the blue shark.

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There Are Possibly Only 30 of These Rare Porpoises Left on the Planet

The fascinating vaquita is heading for oblivion, the victim of a ravenous black market for a dubious remedy


Out of five vaquita found dead this past spring, three were killed in illegal gill nets. (Flip Nicklin / Minden Pictures / National Geographic Creative)

SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE |
NOVEMBER 2017

I spent a few days walking the dry, shelly beaches where the Colorado River Delta meets the Gulf of California. I was with a group of scientists, all paleontologists and geologists of one stripe or another, who had gathered in this remote part of Mexico six years ago to learn more about what happens to the remains of living things. Scientists who work at the scale of geologic time tend to think about life’s leftovers—hollow shells, bits of bone, shed leaves—not as detritus but as potential future fossils. Modern-day settings, like the delta plain that crunched beneath our feet, give us useful ways to understand the processes that control how the remnants of life enter the rock record, that ledger of past worlds.

We were certainly an odd bunch, walking every few yards and then pausing to sift through a pile of shells or inspect a seabird thighbone. As a paleontologist specializing in whales, I had more than a passing interest in a worn, sun-bleached skull. I recognized immediately that it belonged to the vaquita, a species of porpoise found only in the northern reaches of the Gulf of California. Its eyes are airbrushed in shadows, ringed by a white seam, like a solar eclipse. It’s among the smallest cetacean species—you could cradle one across your open arms, although you would be hard pressed to find one, because there are only a few dozen, if that many, still alive.

The vaquita’s skull fit into my hand and felt light and delicate, like a paper lantern. There were rows of tiny, spadelike teeth on a blunt snout. It was a specimen not unlike this that first alerted scientists to the vaquita’s existence, a discovery so recent that John Steinbeck didn’t mention the animal in his legendary 1951 natural history, Log from the Sea of Cortez.

In the early 1950s, two skulls found on beaches near San Felipe, in Baja, were taken to the University of California, Berkeley, where they caught the eye of Seth Benson, a professor of zoology and curator at the on-campus Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Turning to the collector, Benson declared, “You’ve got a new species of porpoise on your hands.” He would know. Benson himself collected more than 13,000 specimens, of many kinds of animals, and no doubt had studied the scores of porpoise skulls in the Berkeley collections. In the original 1958 paper announcing the discovery, the authors lamented they had “tried to obtain specimens of the entire animal, but have been unsuccessful thus far.” The vaquita would remain elusive; to this day there isn’t a decent photograph of one alive.

Over the years scientists learned a bit from carcasses that fishermen collected. Females are longer than males. Analyses of the growth layers in vaquita teeth yielded an estimated life span of 21 years. Gestation lasts about 10 to 11 months. In the water, vaquita are mostly observed alone or in small groups. When they breathe at the surface they roll forward quickly, hardly making a splash. DNA from skin samples of dead vaquita bycatch show little genetic diversity. That’s significant because genetic variation is the fuel of evolution; without it, populations on the edge have less resilience in the face of disease and other threats.

The vaquita is a child of the ice ages, according to the story written in its DNA. There are six porpoise species all around the world, and the family trees that can be constructed from particular gene sequences suggest that the vaquita split from other Pacific Ocean porpoises in the past five million years. This is notable for students of deep time because it includes the start of major changes in global climate around the beginning of the ice ages, with the repeated march and retreat of ice sheets in both the Southern and Northern hemispheres. Indeed, the vaquita’s limited range in the Gulf of California seems typical of a species that evolved in response to the retreat of northern glaciers (cool waters out, warm waters in), which isolated the species in this now-altered habitat, known as a refugium. 

The Vaquita: The Biology of an Endangered Porpoise

The Vaquita is a book about the world’s most endangered marine mammal, the Vaquita porpoise. Less than 100 remain, and this book provides information on their biology as well has how to help them. Complete with original illustrations and poetry, this book is great for anyone interested in the natural world.

Having adapted to that radical disruption, the vaquita is nonetheless imperiled today, for several reasons. The Colorado River no longer reaches the Gulf of California most of the time, its flow and course stemmed by major dams in the American West. The entire landscape of the Colorado River Delta today looks nothing like the lush flood plain that flourished only a century ago. Which is why the paleontologists in our field study on the delta were so interested in the acres and acres of clamshells, from hundreds or thousands of years ago, shaped into elongated mounds, called cheniers, by a river flow that is no longer there. We can only guess at what a free-flowing Colorado River meant for the vaquita.

Yet the most serious threat to the vaquita is that for the last few decades its fate has been tied to that of the totoaba, a large fish that also lives only in the gulf and is at the center of a highly lucrative black market trade. A single totoaba swim bladder, when stretched and dried, fetches thousands of dollars in Asia, where it’s coveted for its purported medicinal properties. A global supply chain for the bladders, likely linked to criminal enterprise, feeds demand for the tissue, which has only increased as the totoaba itself has become endangered. Baja fishermen go after the totoaba with gill nets, now illegal, which also rake in the vaquita. 

(Kiki Kita)

Scientists have sounded the alarm about the precipitous decline in the vaquita population, which has plummeted by more than 90 percent in the past five years alone. The current best estimate places the number at about 30 individuals. That’s the entirety of the species. Researchers arrived at this number not by observing the animals directly but by placing instruments underwater and listening for the vaquita’s distinctive biosonar clicks.

The options for rescuing this enigmatic mammal are dwindling fast. One possibility is to capture some females and males and place them in floating sea pens, or within a cordoned refuge. But the stress of captivity can be hard on porpoises, and it’s far from clear whether any vaquita could even be secured in the first place—not one ever has. Another idea is to use U.S. Navy-trained bottlenose dolphins to wrangle vaquita into sea refuges, but that’s also a gamble—trained dolphins have never done so before. The obvious step of ridding the gulf of gill nets requires a level of law enforcement that has apparently not been achieved, perhaps because of criminal influence on the totoaba trade. The vaquita’s newly visible champions on social media, including the actor Leonardo DiCaprio and the billionaire Mexican philanthropist Carlos Slim, have raised the animal’s profile and amplified existing work by nonprofit conservation groups and government organizations in the United States and Mexico. Unfortunately, even the impressive speed of tweets and internet petitions may not be enough—we may have just months to save this species.

The extinction of a species at sea is far more anonymous than on land. We may never know the last vaquita. It doesn’t take much to imagine the final one spinning in a gill net at the hands of a disappointed fisherman, or washed up on an uninhabited shoreline, food for gulls. The only other cetacean species to have gone extinct at human hands is the Yangtze River dolphin. Only half a dozen specimens rest in museums, including the Smithsonian, which houses the skull and jaws of the animal representing the discovery of the species, in 1918. Less than 100 years later, our only evidence for its disappearance is not having seen it—absence is the evidence. No one has definitively documented a living Yangtze River dolphin since 2002, and the last detailed scientific survey, in 2006, could not find any. Aquatic extinctions happen silently, beneath the surface, lacking any clear semaphore. For species in this realm, the end is indeed a whimper.

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I wince every time I hear mention of the vaquita: During that field trip in Mexico, I came across four vaquita skulls on the beach. That would have been a substantial cache, if you consider there are only 14 vaquita specimens total in U.S. museum collections. But my colleagues and I did not have a permit to collect marine mammal remains, never mind remove them from the country, and I decided against entangling the group in the red tape of obtaining such permission at the last minute. At that time, there were many more vaquita alive than there are today. Still, it was the kind of missed opportunity that keeps me awake at night. The animal is so poorly known, and vanishing so quickly, its skeleton may be the richest source of data about the species that we’ll ever have. But how many more chances will we have to gather the remains of a vaquita for posterity? I hope somebody who knew what he or she was doing collected those skulls.

Extinction is an everyday currency for paleontologists. We tally the fossil traces of bygone species in a rock formation and calibrate their duration through geologic time, all to figure out how evolution works over millions of years; we don’t usually have to contend with a species approaching oblivion at this moment. Handling the fossils of the vaquita’s extinct relatives—skulls with odd fissures and bumps, longer beaks, strange jaws—I can see that porpoises of the long-distant past were different from porpoises today, the vaquita included. That puts me directly in touch with the reality that their worlds were different, too.

I wish I could say that I know how the story of the vaquita ends. I do know that not a single whale species went extinct in the 20th century, despite massive whale hunting. Now, in the 21st century, we face the possibility of another cetacean species disappearing on our watch. I’m reminded of the urgency to collect every scrap of information we can about all life-forms, whether they are extant, extinct or on the brink. We need tangible vouchers, the stuff we keep in museums, that show us how the world once was if we want to make predictions about how the world will turn out.

Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
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