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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Tuesday, July 21, 2020: I’ve been a bit under the weather. That’s a semi joke, son. Being an outdoor soul, coming in as just this side of human wildlife

Uh, Kim darlin', you sure you want to play high-stakes poker wearing mirror sunglasses, Just askin'.

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THIS LBI: Anyone else besides me question the ethicalness of people heading to the beach carefully pushing baby strollers ... with no babies within, just beach stuff, simply to gain some street-crossing cred?

Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em … head over to one of our thrift stores.

“Excuse me, do you have any stollers?”

“Yes, in the back room. And how old is your baby?”

“Uh, 37.”

"I got ya. Headin’ to the beach, eh? We have some realistic looking dolls in the kids’ section.” (Wink, wink. Nod, nod.)

Below: This gal is really playing it to the max, as she reaches in for her bottle of Perrier. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020: I’ve been a bit under the weather. That’s a semi joke, son. Being an outdoor soul, coming in as just this side of human wildlife, these suddenly savage air temps are forcing me to spend precious outdoor time … indoors. Watching the same reruns of “River Monsters” and “What on Earth” for the how-manyeth time doesn’t cut it. I might have to resort to night hikes and bikes. Remember Mr. Black Bear, I’m a buddy. "Care for Milk-Bone? Oh, you'd rather have my veggie hoagie? NO, problem, big guy."  

How to Live with Black Bears

COWNOSED RAYS EXONERATED: I’m getting a whole new read on cow-nosed stingrays. Actually, I’m being schooled, seeing that I had been caught up in a high-viz crap-science study, which used limited research to come to huge conclusions, led by the notion that rays were dangerously proliferating/overpopulating due to a lack of sharks -- and those mounting ray numbers should be reined in -- all in the name of a balanced marine ecosystem.

The study in question, entitled “Cascading Effects of the Loss of Apex Predatory Sharks from a Coastal Ocean" (Ransom A. Myers, Julia K. Baum, Travis D. Shepherd, Sean P. Powers, Charles H. Peterson), went whole hog on the perceived interplay between sharks and rays.

Here’s a quick synopsis read of the study’s intro. Although a tad technical, it is very telling.

“… As abundances of all 11 great sharks that consume other elasmobranchs (rays, skates, and small sharks) fell over the past 35 years, 12 of 14 of these prey species increased in coastal northwest Atlantic ecosystems. Effects of this community restructuring have cascaded downward from the cownose ray, whose enhanced predation on its bay scallop prey was sufficient to terminate a century-long scallop fishery. Analogous top-down effects may be a predictable consequence of eliminating entire functional groups of predators.”

 

Begging to strongly differ with those assumptions were a slew of scientists. A very telling article is found within Discover Magazine. It is titled “Ray Fillets Won't Save The Bay: Scientists Exonerate Cownose Rays,” written by Christie Wilcox. (https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/ray-fillets-wont-save...)

Per the article, Dean Grubbs, an elasmobranch ecologist with Florida State University, is among many having issues with the paper’s methods and conclusions, especially regarding the reproductive biology of rays. Cow-nose ray females only give birth to one offspring per year.

Grubbs snubbed the Myers et al study. “We were concerned that this (study) could quickly get out of hand,” he said.

Sonja Fordham, founder and president of the non-profit Shark Advocates International, found the study hard to fathom. “It just seems like virtually everyone who wants to talk about shark conservation knows this story, and most of them believe it.”

Fordham is not a believer. From her first reading of the study, she was put off by such unscientific references as “hordes” of cow-nose rays. She sensed those behind the study were itching to target rays for commercial harvesting – and to protect scallopers’ interests. “The paper was very pro shark conservation, so I found it very surprising that it would not see the potential danger of suggesting that a different type of elasmobranch (rays = flat sharks) had run amok.”

Follow-up studies done by researchers including Jack Musick, emeritus with the William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, are proving the famed study is often dead wrong. And Musick knows his shark stuff. He began studying shark with VIMS back in the early 70’s

“Our data show that the increase in cownose rays in the 1990s and early 2000s coincided with an increase, not a decrease, in sandbar, dusky, and blacktip sharks,” said Musick. “That’s exactly opposite of what you’d expect if a rise in ray numbers were caused by a drop in shark predation.”

See if you can ID this shark (Hmmm .. Let me guess ...)

Those down on the study mounted a rebuttal, published in Scientific Reports. The rebuttal attacked the concept of larger sharks scarfing down rays, buttressed by stomach content studies on sharks. Smaller sharks and rays, combined, comprised less than 13 percent of the dietary intake of large sharks. More telling, “Upon review of 39 published diet studies for the large coastal shark species considered, we determined that cownose rays have been identified only in the stomachs of blacktip and sandbar sharks in the northwest Atlantic, but at low frequencies of occurrence.”

How low? In blacktip sharks, cownose rays comprised 3% of their diet. For sandbar sharks, rays made up 0.3%.

So, why do we see a concurrent showing of cow-nosed rays and sharks in our waters? It is not a prey/forage thing at all. It instead has to do with fellow elasmobranchs converging on areas offering forage common to both species -- though I’ve personally seen masses of rays parting like the Red Sea to let a single shark through. That’s little more than an everyday dominance thing.

How does all this new data impact efforts to make stingray meat the talk of the dining walk? Mostly, it removes the sensationalism surrounding a contrived need to rid the seas and bays of stingrays. It has surely thrown cold water on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s effort to market “Chesapeake rays,” a taste that has yet to be well-received by the dining public, despite a $75,000 prize for the best cow-nose recipes. The commission’s slogan “Save the Bay, Eat a Ray” might run into the more powerful overall “Save the Bay” campaign saying, which will now include conserving cow-nosed rays in a sustainable way.

Marinated Chesapeake Ray Stingers | Chesapeake Light Tackle

With conservation fully in mind, and acknowledging research that indicates that scallops and oysters are not big on cow-nosed ray menus, there is no denying large mats of rays can rapidly ruin clamming grounds, primarily by eating smaller natural and farmed clams. Fighting back are baymen using protective anti-ray coverings on beds. Even then, rays manage to get through. Natural clams are dead meat for rays. This could indicate some sort of control is needed. One thing we now know for certain, sharks likely won’t be performing that public service. If the graphs hold true, the more sharks … the more rays. I wouldn’t have thought that just a year back. Proves there’s not just fake news but dang near fake science.

Also see: Study discounts alleged link between sharks, rays and bivalves


  • Ray By-catch

https://www.wm.edu/news/stories/2016/study-discounts-alleged-link-b...

The cownose ray — Rhinoptera bonasus (Photo by D. Grubbs/FSU)

TODAY: Bridget Glynn Buteau‎ ... LBi Recommendations and Questions
Stingrays enjoying 41st St Brant Beach!

JUNIOR’S ROUGH ROAD: Also ailing me is the crappy-ish season our local star Martin Truex, Jr. is having in NASCAR.

Martin is suffering the long-term impacts of losing a top dream team leader, crew chief Cole Pearn. Chatting with NASCARified folks, they go on and on about the utter importance of a stellar crew leader. Proof apparent.

Below: Please come back, Cole!!!

I’m not discounting the possibility that the current pit crew will ratchet things up. Before last weekend’s wreck, # 19’s pit stops were looking way better than in recent races. But, until they get Martin to the front of the pack, and into fresh air, he’ll keep getting caught up in multi-vehicle wrecks, which have haunted him – along with bad pit stops— this season.

Heretofore, it seems essential that our local NASCAR hero gets back to thinking in terms of stage wins/points and high finishes. Those are what won him the world championship a couple years back – and (little noticed) would have won him his second championship last year if not for one catastrophic pit foul-up.

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Here's a look at a past time when angling thoroughly shined in Holgate and within nearby waters. Holgate: I nabbed my September Spanish mackerel from there -- not "Off Holgate" as is listed, but in the "Holgate Surf), while the late, great Bert Harper sat pat with a record spotted seatrout. Notice Bill Figley's boy, Nathan, had top red hake out off dad's reef. Then there's Brian Steever's king-sized king mackerel taken off Beach Haven, along with John Norton's 168-pound sandbar shark, pulled up in Little Egg Inlet -- realizing  that was when the species could be kept. Sorry, but I feel angling hasn't been up to historic snuff since then. 

Below this one, via William Murray Christopher Jr. might take a couple looks to figure ...

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Newport News-Times Newspaper

A truck hauling slime eels to a Depoe Bay fish plant lost its load at the northern base of Cape Foulweather at noon today, splattering and damaging five other vehicles with thousands of squirming, slime-producing fish.
Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor and nature
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Spotted lanternfly sightings increasing in N.J. Here’s what to do if you see one.


The spotted lanternfly has emerged as a serious pest since the federal government confirmed its arrival in this region six years ago.

By Bill Duhart | For NJ.com
If you’re seeing strange bugs with colorful red and white wings with black dots, there’s a good reason why.

The spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect that can suck the life out of some trees and continues to destroy crops like vines used for wine grapes, has increased significantly in New Jersey since last year, a Rutgers University entomologist said.

“Our citizen science reporting from the slanternfly@njaes.rutgers.edu site has a 1,300% increase in reports this year over last year,” said Anne Nielsen, an entomologist with the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Bridgeton. “We have seen a drop-off in counties that have a longer experience with [Spotted Lanternflies] such as Hunterdon County, but this shows that the populations in the homeowner landscape are becoming much more apparent. We are still within the exponential growth curve for this invasive species as its populations spread and increase in New Jersey.”

Lanternflies have been sighted in other locations in New Jersey but have not multiplied enough for the county to be put in quarantine. They were first spotted in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014 and appeared in New Jersey by 2018. To help stop the spread, a quarantine was placed on Mercer, Hunterdon and Warren counties in 2018. Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Somerset were added in 2019.

This meant stepped up measures to capture and kill the bugs and added warnings for travelers, especially with plants and items like firewood or packing material, to check to make sure the insects haven’t hitched a ride. Businesses and municipalities were required to obtain permits if they needed to move certain items in and out of those counties, too.

Neilsen said Rutgers and the state Department of Agriculture are relying on citizen tipster to report sightings to a special hotline number — 833-BADBUG-0 (833-223-2840) — or send an email with a photo to SLF-plantindustry@ag.nj.gov.

“Given what I have seen in vineyards, we are also seeing significantly higher populations of nymphs than last year and this is very concerning for our grape industry,” Nielsen said. “At one location I saw a maximum number of 90 1st instar nymphs on a single vine in one day. The average is closer to 10-15 nymphs per vine.”

State and federal wildlife officials say killing the insect is the best plan of action if spotted, even though that advice is not often given for problem bugs outside. Wrapping tape, with the adhesive side out, is also recommended as a way to catch the bug.

Aside from killing individual lanternflies, residents are also advised to remove and destroy any egg masses of the spotted lanternfly. Those look like small grayish blobs of putty and are usually attached to trees.

The lanternflies only attack vegetation and are no immediate threat to people or pets.

Another important factor in predicting the possible range is the presence of the tree of heaven — an invasive plant that, like the lanternfly, originated from China, according to the researchers. Although not the plant-hopper’s only host plant, it is highly important to the insect. Studies are underway to identify additional host plants and to find the right biocontrol system, the USDA researchers say.

Within the United States, the spotted lanternfly could eventually become established in most of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, the central United States and Pacific coastal states, officials said.

Staff writers Len Melisurgo and Kurt Bresswein contributed to this report

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