Above: My pic, LEHT. Last weekend.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020: Due to a waning interest in this blog – which makes sense after over 20 years -- I’ll be emphasizing more of an LBI insider angle, though fishing will still be a major focus. As with any blog, it’ll be written to, essentially, myself, a bit like a journal.
I’ll begin with a message chat I had with Allen L. who wrote “Wife and I took a ride down yesterday to check out the new refurbished area for crabbing and fishing on both sides of the Causeway main bridge. Very nice as long as people don't trash them up like they did years ago. Does the state plan on putting trash receptacles in both areas and maintaining them or the twp. ?”
I responded, “Good question. I'm on it. Responsibility might fall on Stafford Twp. Hell, If I have to, I'll do it ... for a while anyway.”
I was only semi-serious about my handling any trash. I more exactly meant that I’d make a fuss over any trash in hopes the NJDOT or the township would take notice … and then take action.
At the same time, the notion of carry in/carry out should always apply, even when trash cans are up and running. Why so? The problem is simple: If you place them, they will come. “They” being more conscientious users than the cans can hold. Virtually, no trash can goes unused. Did you know that sanitation crews turn emptied trash can upside down because leaving them upright leads to pedestrians immediately using them in passing?
Talking about the overall littering of bayside areas, I wrote: “I need only bring up the Road-to-Nowhere which becomes a rathole in nothing flat. Sorry, but I find crabbers the worst garbagers/violators of all. … The problem is those styro chicken parts dishes that blow over into the meadows.”
Talking coyotes, I heard what could be a disturbing turn-of-events in the coyote presence on the north end when a gal pulled into her driveway and spotted one not far off. That in itself wasn’t a biggy, until she blew the horn and it stayed put. That tells me somebody – if not somebodies – have been either knowingly or inadvertently feeding the wild canine. Ever wonder how wild canines became man’s best friend. Simple: As wildlife, they very readily cozy up to any humans they feel might want to be buddies, so they can readily adopt them as pack members. Being fed is just about the greatest invite a canine of any ilk can receive.
What becomes of an overly invited coyote? Non-good things. It becomes a recognized “public nuisance” and is trapped and most often disposed of. Yes, disposed of.
I’ve apparently lost many a dedicated reader by openly discussing the pest control concept of coyotes as feral cat eliminators. It’s the old dog people versus cat people, a polarization that divides despite the sharing of a love of animals.
Should a trapping of the north end coyote(s) become necessary, I hope the public demands humane trapping, which does not include snares. A coyote will cripple itself trying to unsnare.
There was some chatter about Fantasy Island not reopening. That’s all it was. It is reopening soon, per the owners. I’m ecstatic because that amusement zone (Hartman’s and such) dates back to the 1960s, when I hung there nightly as a young-gun.
It’s worse than ever. I’m talking about the danger posed by bicyclists. I’m not overstating it. There are more bikes than ever doing more insane moves than ever, most dangerously after dark – when kids wearing all dark, riding without headlights or reflectors put their lives on the line by toying with traffic.
I realize my highlighting of the problem won’t do a doggone thing to make bad bikers bike better. However, alerting all ya’ll to the danger might make you as a motorist a tad more aware, enough to be steadily ready to hit the brakes for bikers – or to crazily swerve to avoid impact, as I was forced to do last night – and got a middle finger as thanks. No, I don’t go all aggro over obscene hand gestures, especially by teens. Long ago, I was that goofy – and was forced to be all ballsy to save face with girls around, as was the case of the riders last night.
One other bike-avoidance tip: Make sure other folks in your vehicle are on guard. It really helps to have other eyes at work -- warning of bikers, pedestrians or even wildlife up ahead.
Speaking of wildlife up ahead, terrapins are returning by the ton. Conservation, spurred on by a large group of terrapin aficionados, has helped increase the biomass possibly two-fold in only a couple decades. In fact, the first conserved terrapins, egged on from eggs, are now grandparents. That’s significant since they have likely been involved in many nesting efforts, with each effort establishing return-to nesting zones for more and more egg-laying generations.
Of a more mainlandish tilt, roadways are now seeing heavy crossing action by egg-bearing turtles, including snappers, box turtles, red-eared sliders, painted turtles, red-bellied turtles and the rarest of them all the bog/wood turtle, best knows Muhlenberg's turtle – first discovered in 1778 by Reverend Heinrich Muhlenberg. Per marylandzoo.org, Muhlenberg was a Lutheran minister and self-taught botanist. He came eye-to-eye with the tiny turtle while on his hands and knees studying grasses in a wetland area in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He delivered specimens of the miniature turtle to his friend, Johann David Schoepff, who first described and named it in 1801.
The bog turtle, of which I’ve seen maybe half a dozen over a 50-year span, is yet another species ravaged by poachers – to this very day. On the black market, I’ve heard of bog turtles fetching well over $500 apiece, even though getting caught marketing them can include large fines, jail time and confiscation of vehicle. At the same time, punishment is often so small – compared to profits – that repeat offenders allow even jail time to roll off their backs. I know this from a bust I was invited to witness where a hardcore poacher was taken down – for the umpteenth time.
Speaking of poaching, who can forget this debacle:
New Jersey becomes unlikely hotbed of turtle poaching to supply appetites for delicacy in China
New Jersey is a prime breeding spot for diamondback breed
The arrest of an American accused of trafficking thousands of protected turtles has thrown a new spotlight on an illegal wildlife trade that spans the globe and threatens to force rare species of the reptile into extinction.
This upcoming trial of David Sommers, 62, has exposed New Jersey as an unlikely hotbed of poaching that has surged due to a high demand in Asia, where native populations have been depleted, wildlife advocates say.
Popular for its meat, medicinal qualities and increasingly as an ex...
Mr Sommers, from Pennsylvania, is accused of smuggling 3,500 diamondback terrapins, native to the eastern US, out of New Jersey to sell them online to American and foreign buyers.
He was charged by the Department of Justice in July after one of his shipments to Canada - a box of turtles labelled as a book - was seized by authorities. He was found with more than 3,000 turtles, most of which were hatchlings.
Officials suspect that Mr Sommers bred the terrapins himself after catching a few adult females, inducing them to lay eggs and then incubating them.
Mr Sommers has denied the charges against him and is due to stand trial in the coming months. If convicted, he could face up to 35 years in prison.
New Jersey, which is a prime breeding spot for diamondback breeds, banned the collection, possession and transport of the turtles in 2016 after a huge increase in the numbers being removed from its shores.
Conservationists say the removal of just one adult female has huge implications for the local population as females have to lay dozens of eggs just to replace themselves in a population.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) law enforcement department, which is responsible for catching wildlife traffickers, said it is striving to break up "international and domestic smuggling rings that target imperilled animals".
The FWS told The Telegraph it could not comment on Mr Sommers' case while legal proceedings are ongoing. But it pointed to a series of cases it has brought to prosecution in recent months, adding that its officers are taking a number of steps to tackle the "potentially devastating threats to wildlife" by working with international counterparts.
Zane Batten, a conservation police officer for FWS' New Jersey division, told NJ.com that was a "huge problem" in the state. "It's a clandestine market: people don't know about it, people don't hear about it, people don't see about it," he said.
Mr Batten said an upswing in demand from Asia for diamondback terrapins has fuelled a significant increase in the illegal trade.
As a major hub for international trade, a number of species illegally travel through New Jersey's ports and airports and on to Asia and Europe every year, according to the US Justice Department.
Rachel Kramer, manager of wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said the growth of the Asia market was “likely due to a combination of growing affluence, increasing connectivity between wild places and consumers, and age-old desires to own what’s rare and beautiful.”
She added: "Turtle soup has long been out of fashion in the United States, but there’s mounting demand for live turtles in the global pet trade. Traffic surveys have found protected North American turtles in markets as distant as Jakarta - that’s a long way from home for those little guys."
A Traffic investigation published in March discovered that 16 out of 65 species of tortoise and freshwater turtles in Jakarta markets and pet stores were from North America.
Nearly half of 4,895 individual reptiles found by the group were threatened with extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s red list of threatened species.
The illegal trade works in both directions between Asian and US markets, said Serene Chng, a programme officer at the Southeast Asia office of Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring network.
“Most people just think of turtles being eaten but they are also traded as pets in substantial volumes and this particular trade is global. It’s not just that they are in demand in Asia, they are also being traded in the States and in Europe,” she told The Telegraph.
“You have Southeast Asian species that are traded to Europe and the Americas and likewise you have species from the Americas that are traded in Asia,” she said.
In May, Ms Chng published a report revealing that Asia’s illegal trade in turtle was spiralling out of control at such a pace that the reptiles had become one of the world’s most threatened groups of animals.
Traffic has called for the urgent launch of intelligence-led investigations and collaborative law enforcement across source, consumer and transit hotspots. It has demanded more vigilance at key international airports and stronger prosecution efforts.
“The States is quite a big demand centre so more could be done on their end to look at the buyers and ensuring that pet shops that do sell reptiles are doing so legally. There is some responsibility by the businesses as well as the buyers,” said Ms Chng.
Teen lands 583-pound grouper on second deep-sea fishing trip
A 16-year-old girl who went deep-sea fishing recently for only her second time, reeled up an estimated 583-pound goliath grouper, which dwarfs the women’s world record for the species.
© File Photo File Photo
“I was, like, in shock pretty much,” Reegan Werner told the TwinCities Pioneer Press on Saturday. “My biggest fish before that was a salmon.”
Werner, who is from Farmington, Minn., was fishing May 31 near Marco Island off Florida with her brother, mother, and stepfather.
Werner’s brother, Owen, hooked a hammerhead shark before the enormous grouper devoured Werner’s bait. Her catch, after a fierce but short battle of 15 minutes, became the highlight of the family excursion.
“These things have amazing power,” Paul Hartman, Werner’s stepfather, told the Pioneer Press. “A 115-pound girl catching a fish like that is beyond explanation just with the laws of physics.”
Goliath grouper have been protected off Florida since 1990, so the estimated weight was obtained using a time-tested measurement formula. The fish, which measured 83 inches with a 75-inch girth, was released immediately after the measurement process and a quick photo.
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According to the International Game Fish Assn., the heaviest goliath grouper caught by a woman weighed 366 pounds. That fish, caught by Betsy Walker off Panama in 1965, is the women’s world record for 80-pound-test line.
The overall world record is a 680-pound goliath grouper caught by Lynn Joyner off Fernandina Beach, Fla., in 1961. Joyner’s fish also holds the men’s record for 80-pound-test line.
Thanks to the longstanding harvesting ban, the population is growing and larger fish are again being encountered by scuba divers and catch-and-release anglers.
According to Hartman, who fishes often in the Gulf of Mexico, the grouper caught by Werner has been caught before and is nicknamed “My Lord.”
He explained that it’s because “each time it showed up, all anyone could say is, ‘My Lord, look at that!’ ”