Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Wednesday, July 02, 2014: Arthur; sharks and grandma; seismic to start


Wednesday, July 02, 2014: I’m looking for a fishing angle to TS Arthur. Oh, here’s one:


Arthur: Oh, stay with me, Hobson. You know I hate to be alone.

Hobson: Yes, bathing is a lonely business.

Arthur: Except for fish.

Hobson: I beg your pardon? Did you say "except for fish"?

Arthur: Yes... fish all bathe together. Although they do tend to eat one another. I often think... fish must get awfully tired of seafood. What are your thoughts, Hobson?


Sure, it’s a stretch but it might add a touch of humor to an otherwise low-humor tropical system that still seems hell-bent on throwing a wrench into one of the more subtly beloved holidays. The upside is a couple west-to-east cold fronts, positioned to make sure TS/? Arthur gets pushed out to sea before botching up the whole weekend shabang. 

Which is a lead-in to the fishing potential for the hot holiday – temps well into the 90s, on occasion. We should be able to salvage maybe tomorrow and even Saturday and Sunday. Via process of elimination, that leaves Friday as the muck-up, likely pushing around hard north winds and even rain bands, though I have some serious reservations about us even seeing any moisture at all. Forecasts say yeah, so I’ll at least mention it. 

The more aggravating aspect of the fishing this week remains the non-Arthur south winds, which have mucked up the ocean water – murkifying it. Those southerlies have also pulled the plug on the water temps, with some LBI beaches recording upper 50s.

Via downwelling (the opposite of water chilling upwelling), Friday’s north winds could actually blow in much milder water, opening the doors for better beach waters through Monday. Better weather is a given from Saturday a.m. onward.

SWELL GALORE: There’s going to be some serious groundswells out there, I'm thinking to eight feet. The rips will be ripping – and so might waveriders if we can get some westwinds in the mix, which is kinda likely. I’m guessing Saturday a.m. as a clean wave window and maybe again Sunday a.m.

The swell action, first from a southerly direction (3-4 feet, short period) then from the east and north (5- to 7-foot-plus, short- and medium-period), is obviously going to rock the surfcasting realm. A lot like surfers, sudsters need to watch the beach to see when some surfcasting can get done. I’m still betting sinkers will need to be mighty meaty. Sharking the suds might be the best bet, i.e. big baits and big rigs.

BIGS STILL BEING TAKEN: I can’t even keep track of the truly sizeable browns and sand tigers folks have been besting lately, from both beach and boat. As to great whites, they’re not out very far, though roiled seas will greatly restrict smaller craft getting out there.

I see where a very large sand tiger washed up dead after being released. Mouth damage clearly indicted it was a caught/released shark. It’s likely yet another example of the delicate insides of sharks. Also, bigger sharks need tons of dissolved oxygen. They just can’t be kept out of the water as long as some folks are doing to allow the admiring public to ogle over the catch. Bending a shark in half while pushing it back into the water – or even rolling it -- is the push of death. Be gentle – even though we’re talking a huge shark here.

SERIOUSLY, GRANDMA!?: I have to share a phone call I got from a fairly fervent, slightly older gal who thinks it’s “idiotic” to be protecting sharks. She offered me one of those “I have 12 grandchildren” lines, as if she had lost no fewer than half of them to bull shark attacks. Still, I listened. I’m sorta indulgent when it comes to tolerating divergent opinions over the phone, in other words, I quietly put down the phone and tidy up my desk until I suspect they’re done opining. Not true (or not).

When given a chance, I rather unenergetically explained the low odds of anyone, even grandchildren,  being shark-bit. I even tried to sneak in “statistically, there’s a greater chance of being bitten by a Uruguayan soccer player than a shark.” I knew that had missed its mark when she rather snootily said, “Well, none of my grandchildren play soccer.”

I left it at that. However, I guess there might be more than a few galeophobiacs out there. Galeo-whatics??? Yep, that’s officially the word for folks who fear sharks. For older galeophobics, the year 1975 was a horrific period, far from a SNL laughing matter.

[Scene: Interior. A New York apartment. There is a knock at the door.]

Woman:  [speaking through closed door] Yes?

Voice:  (mumbling) Mrs. Arlsburgerhhh?

Woman:  Who?

Voice:  (mumbling) Mrs. Johannesburrrr?

Woman:  Who is it?

Voice:  [pause] Flowers.

Woman:  Flowers for whom?

Voice:  [long pause] Plumber, ma'am.

Woman:  I don't need a plumber. You're that clever shark, aren't you?

Voice:  [pause] Candygram.

Woman:  Candygram, my foot! You get out of here before I call the police! You're the shark, and you know it!

Voice:  Wait.  I-I'm only a dolphin, ma'am.

Woman:  A dolphin? Well... Okay. [opens door]

[Huge latex and foam-rubber shark head lunges through open door, chomps down on woman's head, and drags her out of the apartment, as Jaws attack music plays.]


Feds approve Rutgers seismic testing off NJ coast despite concerns of fishing industry


SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Newark Star-Ledger] - July 2, 2014 - 

Ship Bottom, A federal agency gave its approval Tuesday to a plan to conduct seismic testing off the New Jersey coast, despite opponents' fears it could harm marine life and disrupt the state's fishing industry.

It moves the testing plan closer to final approval. The National Science Foundation still needs to issue a final environmental assessment and a decision document that addresses whether the research is authorized to go forward, said Connie Barclay, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

The agency's National Marine Fisheries Service issued a permit Tuesday to Rutgers University, University of Texas, and the National Science Foundation for the testing that allows harassment or harm to creatures, including whales and turtles that otherwise would be forbidden by federal law.

The tests are designed to study the arrangement of sediments deposited on the ocean floor during times of changing global sea levels dating back 60 million years. Environmentalists and fishing groups fear the acoustic blasting noises will harm sea life.

Some also feel the research could be used to probe for undersea oil and gas deposits in the event drilling is opened off the New Jersey coast someday.

"This is a terrible decision," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "It is wrong for our coast because it will hurt our environment, fisheries and marine mammals. This is not about science. It is really about getting information for drilling off our coast. This is the way NMFS celebrates Fourth of July, with underwater fireworks."

The agency says the testing will take precautions to avoid disturbing marine life as much as possible.

"NOAA Fisheries' role is to ensure minimal impacts to marine mammals," Barclay said.

The study aims to investigate features such as river valleys cut into coastal plain sediments now buried under nearly 3,300 feet of younger sediment and flooded by today's ocean.

Environmental, fishing and political groups plan a rally against the plan Wednesday afternoon on Long Beach Island.


I do not think this disappearance is a good thing (j-mann): 

Study finds vast amount of plastic garbage on ocean's surface seems to have disappeared


SEAFOODNEWS.COM [LiveScience] By Tia Ghose - July 1, 2014 - 

A vast amount of the plastic garbage littering the surface of the ocean may be disappearing, a new study suggests.

Exactly what is happening to this ocean debris is a mystery, though the researchers hypothesize that the trash could be breaking down into tiny, undetectable pieces. Alternatively, the garbage may be traveling deep into the ocean's interior.

"The deep ocean is a great unknown," study co-author Andrés Cózar, an ecologist at the University of Cadiz in Spain, said in an email. "Sadly, the accumulation of plastic in the deep ocean would be modifying this mysterious ecosystem — the largest of the world — before we can know it."

Researchers drew their conclusion about the disappearing trash by analyzing the amount of plastic debris floating in the ocean, as well as global plastic production and disposal rates. 

Age of plastic

The modern period has been dubbed the Plastic Age. As society produces more and more of the material, storm water runoff carries more and more of the detritus of modern life into the ocean. Ocean currents, acting as giant conveyer belts, then carry the plastic into several subtropical regions, such as the infamous Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch.

In the 1970s, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that about 45,000 tons of plastic reaches the oceans every year. Since then, the world's production of plastic has quintupled.

Missing mass

Cózar and his colleagues wanted to understand the size and extent of the ocean's garbage problem. The researchers circumnavigated the globe in a ship called the Malaspina in 2010, collecting surface water samples and measuring plastic concentrations. The team also analyzed data from several other expeditions, looking at a total of 3,070 samples.
What they found was strange. Despite the drastic increase in plastic produced since the 1970s, the researchers estimated there were between 7,000 and 35,000 tons of plastic in the oceans. Based on crude calculations, there should have been millions of tons of garbage in the oceans.

Because each large piece of plastic can break down into many additional, smaller pieces of plastic, the researchers expected to find more tiny pieces of debris. But the vast majority of the small plastic pieces, measuring less than 0.2 inches (5 millimeters) in size, were missing, Cózar said.

Unknown impact

So what exactly is happening to the debris?

One possibility is that it is being broken down into tiny, undetectable particles, whose impact on the ocean is unknown. Another possibility is that it is being carried into the deep ocean.

Whether that's good or bad isn't clear.

Less trash at the surface may mean less wildlife comes into contact with plastic.

"The plastic pollution in surface waters can more easily interact with the ocean life, because the surface layer of the ocean hosts most of the marine organisms," Cózar said.

On the other hand, small fish — particularly lanternfishes — may be eating some of these small plastic pieces, dubbed microplastics, and breaking them down even more. Because small fish are the ecological link between plankton and small vertebrates, and because commercial fish such as swordfish and tuna eat these small fish, it's important to understand whether the absorption of toxins from the plastic will impact these animals'  health, he said.

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



            Enclosed is this week’s fishing report for the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association. It is pasted below and also attached as a file. If you have any questions, my cell phone number is 609-290-5942 and my e-mail address is jamesghutch1@aol.com

Thanks for your help,

Jim Hutchinson Sr.


Warm weather, nice crowds, and good fishing are all arriving for the summer on Long Beach Island in New Jersey. The captains and boats of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are enjoying the three aspects of summer.


Captain Tim Knorr of the charter boat "William Knorr" took Kevin Hollahan and his family of Minnesota out wreck fishing on Sunday, landing enough nice sized black sea bass to feed the entire family. The ladies out-caught the men even though the seas were a bit choppy for the first few hours. As the tide dropped the fishing was fierce, but as the tide slacked off, so did the action. There were a lot of shorts caught, but very few junk fish.


Captain George Finck of “Sparetime” Charters went wreck fishing with Jonathan Shafer, his father, and 4 friends. The winds were from the northeast at 20-knots so they returned to the inlet and bay to fish. They managed a good catch of fluke up to 23 inches, a bull-nose ray which was released, and numerous skates and sharks. 


Captain Gary Dugan of “Irish Jig Sportfishing” reports his Saturday charter had a slow pick of fluke all day although they managed a couple of decent fish. On another trip he moved outside to the ocean where he found “drop and reel” wreck fishing. He anchored off three different wrecks and put a great catch of sea bass and blackfish together. He took about a dozen big sea bass home for the table and released the rest.


Captain Carl Sheppard of the “Star Fish” reports that Captain Vic Bertotti ran the boat during the past week and had a good catch of black sea bass on the wrecks and lots of small fluke in the inlet mixed in with some keepers. Captain Carl ran the boat on Saturday for a good pick of keeper sea bass and one ling cod on the wrecks. On the way in he tried some fluke fishing and discovered lots of short fish. That night Captain Carl hosted a sunset cruise for a bachelorette party of beautiful young women, and he said it was the perfect way to end the day on the water.


Captain John Lewis ran the “Insatiable” to the 30-fathom line on Sunday and had a fun time with small bluefin tuna. They would hit 3-4 at a time. Most were shorts, and they lost quite a few in addition to releasing a half dozen. They did manage one keeper bluefin, a bull mahi-mahi, and a nice yellowfin tuna to round out the catch.


On the way home they watched a humpback whale breach several times about 10 miles off the beach. Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at www.BHCFA.org

 Jim Hutch

Jim Sr.


Monarch Butterfly News: July 2014

Breeding is in full force now, and the population is growing with each new generation.

Please report monarch adults, eggs, and larvae and tell us how many you are seeing. 



Univ. of BC, Harvard research links improved digestive health to diets high in Omega-3s


Reseachers have linked diets rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids to improved digestive health. 

The findings were presented at the 11th Congress of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) in Stockholm 1 July, 2014.  Research showed that dietary fats impact gut bacteria -- some for the better and some for the worse.

Deanna Gibson, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and colleagues examined the effects of omega-3 and -6 PUFAs in mice infected with GI bacteria that causes colitis. Those fed omega-6 PUFA (corn oil) diets had higher intestinal damage, immune cell damage and production of harmful bacteria. In contrast, diets high in EPA and DHA increased anti-inflammatory microbes, which reduced immune cell damage and inflammation as well as protected against the damage of colitis. However, the mice taking these omega-3 fats suffered sepsis (whole body inflammation due to severe infection) because their immune responses needed to survive infection were impaired.

"While too much inflammation isn't good in the context of autoimmune disease, we also need inflammation to survive against infections," Gibson said. "These observations suggest that excess omega-6 PUFA intakes may be harmful to gut health. Conversely, while omega-3 PUFA supplementation promotes beneficial microbes in the gut, thereby decreasing inflammation, this advantage under normal conditions may be problematic in the presence of harmful bacteria. These intriguing findings suggest that omega-3 PUFA supplementation with a diet high in saturated fat may be more protective to the GI tract than a diet rich in omega-6 PUFAs."

According to scienetsts Omega-3s, EPA and DHA found in seafood and marine oils may reduce inflammation and increase beneficial microorganisms to protect against gastrointestinal (GI) diseases. Research shows that dietary choices and certain microorganisms in the GI tract can contribute to the prevention or development of inflammatory bowel disease, colitis (inflammation of the colon) and Crohn's disease. PUFAs in particular affect microbes living in the intestine known as "gut microbiota."

Jing X. Kang, M.D., Ph.D., professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, USA, reported a mouse study showing a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 PUFAs alters gut microbiota and reduces the production of harmful bacteria while increasing colonies of beneficial bacteria. These changes led to less inflammation.

"Chronic low-grade inflammation contributes to the development of many chronic diseases and can be induced by harmful gut microbiota," Kang says. "Therefore, dietary strategies that lower the omega-6/omega-3 PUFA ratio to optimize gut microbiota -- such as reducing intake of vegetable oils high in omega-6 fat, processed foods and grain-raised livestock and increasing intake of fish and green vegetables -- could prove effective for managing such diseases. For management of certain health conditions, a high quality, concentrated omega-3 supplement is also practical."

Director of Ending Illegal Fishing Project's presentation at Aspen Institute

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Atlantic] By Conor Friedersdorf - July 2, 2014 - 

An Interview on Efforts to Halt Illegal Fishing

Anthony Long is Director of the Ending Illegal Fishing Project. He presented some of his work this week at The Aspen Ideas Festival, which The Atlantic and The Aspen Institute co-host. This is an edited interview about his organization's efforts.

For those unfamiliar with how global fishing is regulated: what is illegal fishing? That is, how is it defined and what kinds of people are doing it?

Fisheries managers coined the term in the 1990s. The definition includes illicit actions among the suite of activities that must be considered in setting fishing quotas. In general terms, illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing includes activities that:

* violate applicable national or international laws or policies;

* have not been reported in areas where such reporting is required;

* are inconsistent with relevant international laws or rules, but either the activities are not regulated or the vessels are operating outside of regulations because they are flying the flag of a State that is not a member of the relevant regional fishery management organization or is not flying any flag at all.

Like almost all theft, illegal fishing is intensely profit driven and can involve any number of players, from independent fishers, seafood companies and vessel owners, to flag States and port States that fail to uphold their duties. Illegal fishing has persisted as a multi-billion dollar global problem in large part because regulations are patchy and the regulatory and enforcement system has been averse to change.

Legal fishing has reached a degree of industrial efficiency that many argue is unsustainable. How large a part of the conservation problem is illegal fishing? How do you measure the scope of a problem that is being hidden?

The seminal peer-reviewed study on the worldwide extent of illegal and unreported fishing concluded that it accounts for $10 billion to $23.5 billion worth of fish per year, or up to 1,800 pounds of seafood stolen from the seas every second. That range is due to the subjective nature of trying to assess a system that is not transparent. Even taking the low end of the scale, this is a problem worth addressing.

Ending illegal fishing is achievable through a combination of: better enforcement of existing laws; stronger controls at ports worldwide; mandatory assignment of unique identification numbers to all large fishing vessels (similar to the VIN on an automobile); and widespread use of best-in-class technology to help authorities find, stop, and prosecute illegal fishers and to facilitate more transparency from the moment of catch until it arrives on the plate.What "best in class technologies" are used to combat this problem?

Pew is working with a UK based innovation centre that specializes in using satellite technology to address the problem of illegal fishing. We can draw on many technologies, such as imagery from space and satellite tracking systems and even drones. None of these, however, are silver bullets. To work best and for the best price, they have to be employed more collaboratively and in a more focused way. You have to always think about two methodologies when it comes to tracking.

On the one hand, enforcement: this is the "look and find" approach where you need a tool bag of systems in order to find and track those that don't want to be seen. On the other hand, the same system can provide a mechanism for the good guys to prove their good behaviour and be transparent in their operations. The second option, reversing the burden on the vessels to prove good behaviour rather than expending energy proving illegal activity, is the easiest and most cost effective way of tracking activity. It also has the added value of making those that are not transparent stand out more–and therefore, it is easier to take effective action against them, whether it is a penalty or a law restricting access to the market.

Many climate scientists worry about a point where we've put so much carbon in the atmosphere that the effects are severe and irreversible. In our oceans, some species have already been fished to extinction. Are we in danger of a tipping point where fish stocks are depleted so severely that they're beyond recovery? How would you rate the ocean's health?

Our project does not work specifically on these issues, but the health of our oceans is in the limelight. One reason that I decided to leave my career in the Royal Navy was that I felt the oceans faced increasingly pressure from a variety of threats. I wanted to help fix the problem. Others think that way as well. The U.S. State Department held its Ocean Summit June 16-17, bringing 80 countries together to raise awareness and set the course for solving problems. The Global Ocean Commission issued a report detailing what we all must do to help rescue our oceans from overfishing, large-scale loss of habitat and biodiversity, the lack of effective management and enforcement, and deficiencies in high seas governance

How is your organization combating illegal fishing?

The Pew Charitable Trusts seeks to use the best available science to influence policies for the public good.

In this case, that means:

* urging all countries with ports to ratify the Port State Measures Agreement, a UN treaty that will strengthen and harmonize inspection protocols for foreign-flagged fishing vessels and stop illegally caught fish entering the market;

* working to get regional fishery management organizations to require every large fishing vessel to have an International Maritime Organization number - the unique numbers mentioned above - as a precondition of fishing, because uniquely identifying the vessel is the first step in being able to conduct enforcement;

* partnering with INTERPOL to improve cross-jurisdiction communication, monitoring and enforcement;

* supporting projects like Fish-i: Africa, a seven-nation effort in Southeast Africa to share information and resources to produce a monitoring and enforcement mechanism;

* partnering with technology organizations to develop and promote systems that help fisheries authorities detect fishing with greater accuracy and cost efficiency

Is there anything the average person concerned about this issue can do? A reform measure they ought to support? A sort of fish they ought to avoid? Or is this an issue that must be solved at the state level?

Our political leaders and the agencies and authorities who carry out and enforce policies are ultimately responsible for the stewardship of the resources at sea, whether in their own waters or the global commons. That said, consumers should demand to know that their seafood was caught legally, by vessels that comply with all applicable rules, including fair labor practices, and that the seafood is accurately labeled. They should encourage their elected representatives to support measures that will combat illegal fishing, improve the traceability for seafood from the point-of-catch to point-of-sale, and ensure sustainable fisheries.


Blue crabs are replacing lobsters in Long Island Sound's warming waters

Above; Mousepad from CafePress.com 

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Hartford Courant] by Gregory B. Hladky - July 1, 2014

Global warming already has begun to transform Long Island Sound, according to many marine scientists, creating climate-change winners, like blue crabs, and losers, like lobsters.

At least one researcher believes that the warming waters of the Sound could someday become a Connecticut version of Chesapeake Bay, with blue crabs numerous enough to support a whole new fishing industry. Other experts warn that global warming can hurt a species like crabs as much as it helps.

At the moment, one of the Sound's biggest climate-change victims is Homerus americanus, a cold-water-loving beast more commonly known as the American lobster. Long Island Sound is at the southern limit of the lobster's habitat range, and average water temperatures in the Sound have been rising for decades. The lobster population imploded in 1988-89 and never recovered.

Although pesticides might have played a role, experts believe that the primary culprit for the demise of the Sound's lobsters is global warming. These 10-legged creatures have become so rare that students at New Haven's Sound School no longer bother setting out lobster pots. Instead, they are raising hundreds of the tiny crustaceans in small white containers in an experimental lobster hatchery.

Temperature also is the key reason why one of the biggest winners in this climate shift -- at least for the moment -- is the blue crab. The Sound had been near the northern limit of the crab's traditional range, but this tasty creature appears to be thriving as the water temperatures off Connecticut's shoreline continue to rise.

"It's certainly well on its way," said Tim Visel, a former lobsterman who now heads up the aquaculture program at New Haven's Sound School.

Visel's voice rises with excitement as he recounts seeing a crab hatching "off Fisher's Island that was 7 miles across. ... I'd never seen a crab hatch like that."

"A couple of years ago, they were taking at least 1,000 pounds [of crabs] a day out of the Connecticut River," he added during a recent interview in his Sound School office.

Visel has spent years researching historical fishing and climate records for Long Island Sound. He believes that events that occurred more than a century ago offer a window into what might be happening with Connecticut marine life today.

According to those records, beginning in the late 1880s, southern New England experienced several decades of extraordinarily warm weather. Lobster populations plummeted (just as they did a century later). Blue crabs began to multiply, as did a number of other species better suited to warmer waters.

Visel calls this period "The Great Heat." He said it lasted into the 1930s, when colder temperatures began to return and the lobsters began to recover. He said these "habitat reversals" have taken place repeatedly over time, a view held by most marine scientists.

"People are saying that [with global warming taking place] we've never been here before," Visel said. "But we have." He said some of his friends who are worried about climate change seem to think that Visel's research into previous warming periods might be used to pooh-pooh the dangers of global warming.

But Visel says that climate change is undeniable and that human activity is a major contributor to global warming.


The windows of Visel's Sound School office look out across New Haven Harbor, where the school's students used to set out lobster pots. They don't bother with that any more. Lobsters are now so rare in the Sound that it's not worth the trouble.

In the school's aquaculture lab, tables and tanks are filled with containers of varying sizes to hold lobsters as they mature.

"The problem with growing lobsters is they are so combative and cannibalistic," said John Roy, who has been a teacher at the school for 19 years. "You've got to keep them separate or they'll kill each other."

It's a remarkably labor-intensive and time-consuming operation. Students picked out about 17,000 lobster hatchlings from the eggs contributed by just six female lobsters. About 12 percent of those hatchlings survived, Roy said, and must be fed reconstituted brine shrimp daily using eye droppers.

"You put in too little, you starve them," said Roy. "Too much, and the water quality goes bad and they die."

The students refer to the small containers for the youngest lobsters as "the condos," and call the larger bottles used for more mature individuals "the high-rises."

"When you know how to hold them you don't get bitten," Sound School student Britney Wrightington explained as she took out one of the larger specimens to show a visitor.

Some of the aquaculture program's larger lobsters have been sent to the Woods Hole Research Center on Cape Cod. Another 100 are headed to New Jersey for a National Fisheries study of ocean acidification.

Roy doesn't think any of the school's lobsters will be released into the Sound, where the warming waters would make their survival doubtful. But he's not convinced that the higher temperatures will trigger a long-term boom in blue crab populations.

"It's pure speculation," Roy said.

Carmela Cuomo, head of the marine science program at the University of New Haven, also is cautious about the prospects for blue crabs.

"Species ranges were predicted to change with global warming," she said. "Could there eventually be a blue crab industry in Long Island Sound? Possibly."

But she said the long-term effects of climate change are too uncertain and too complex to make a confident prediction.


Climate scientists agree that global warming will produce more frequent severe weather events -- bigger storms and colder winters like the one we just experienced.

"Lots of things change at once," said Dave Simpson, the longtime director of Connecticut's marine fisheries division.

Blue crabs might love the higher temperatures of global warming summers, but Simpson said frigid winters "can be devastating for blue crabs."

Visel agrees, and is eager to find out how much of an effect this past winter will have on the Sound's crabs.

Blue crabs like to breed in muddy, silted coves and bays. Major storms like Sandy and Irene tend to scour out the coastline and wipe away those favored crab breeding grounds.

Simpson pointed out that recent fishery surveys have recorded a tremendous rebound in fish predators that feed on both lobsters and crabs. "We have seen such an explosion of black sea bass in the last three or four years," Simpson said.

Restrictions on commercial bass fishing in the Sound are probably one reason for that revival, according to Simpson, who believes that global warming might also be involved. Whatever the reason, it isn't a great development if you're a blue crab.

Simpson said he doesn't expect blue crabs to replace lobsters in the Sound.

Visel said he understands the potentially contradictory effects that global warming might have on the blue crab's future in these waters. But he's convinced that the blue crab is a key indicator species of what's going on in Long Island Sound and says that the scientific community needs to pay closer attention.

"Not enough people are looking at this," Visel said.


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