Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MEDIA ADVISORY: Bluefin Tuna Larvae Scientists Return from Gulf Loop Current Research Mission


Gulf Coast Research Laboratory



Bluefin Tuna Larvae Scientists Return from Gulf Loop Current Research Mission

WHAT: Researchers Jim Franks and Dr. Bruce Comyns with the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Research Laboratory return from a 12-day research expedition to the Gulf of Mexico loop current to collect samples of larvae of the bluefin tuna, one of the ocean’s most threatened fish.

WHEN: Thursday, May 27, 10 a.m.

WHERE: Dockside at berth of RV Tommy Munro, Point Cadet Marina; Biloxi, Miss.

SPECIFICS: Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, researchers traveled to the loop current to collect samples of larvae, which is the most vulnerable life-stage of bluefin tuna. Bluefin tuna spawn in only two places in the western hemisphere — the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Bluefin tuna larvae are in a precarious situation due to the position and magnitude of the oil-affected waters following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Southern Miss President Martha Saunders has assembled an Oil Spill Response Team that is coordinating the university’s response to the incident in the Gulf. Scientists, faculty, staff and students from GCRL, Stennis Space Center, plus the Gulf Park and Hattiesburg campuses are working with federal, state, and private agencies to monitor the spill and, to the extent possible, manage and mitigate its impacts on the Gulf Coast.

For more information on the Oil Spill Response Team visit

RESEARCH CONTACT: Chris Snyder: 228.365.3386.

COREXIT and Oil - Video from the front lines

ABC news has excellent underwater coverage from the front lines in the Gulf. When COREXIT and oil do not mix. The EPA and BP are at loggerheads about this toxic dispersant currently banned in the U.K.

See additional Gulf coverage with whale shark researcher Dr.Eric Hoffmayer "Prime Time for Whale Sharks at Ground Zero." This is the chemical soup these animals are likely to be moving through at this time.

Lessons we've learned from tagging sharks

OCEAN CITY -- In 1978, before I went into the charter fishing business full-time, I got involved with tagging sharks by signing up with NOAA's Coop-erative Shark Tagging Program. I still recall the satisfaction of planting the first tag and knowing that the act could provide biologists with data that could somehow help sharks.

Tagging added a new dimension to fishing that I had never known before. Every catch had more significance than just another struggle on the line, because when they swam away with our tag, they would, in a way, still be our fish. If someone caught them 10 days or 10 years later and chose to report the tag, we'd get credit for catching it first and we'd hear from NOAA the details about who recaptured it, where it was taken and how big it had grown.

I don't know what happened to that first shark, but we sure have heard about others. Since we started tagging we've had recaptures off the coast of every state along the East and Gulf Coast, Mexico, Cuba, the North Atlantic, Spain, and the Azores. As our involvement with shark fishing and tagging increased, so did our relationships with various biologists and fishery managers doing shark research, who have occasionally solicited help with various projects or studies.

Over the years we've had requests for catch data, tissue samples, stomach samples, teeth, entire sharks, assistance with hook studies, and the making of documentary and educational films.

Mark Samson is a sport fishing captain and fishing for sharks off the east coast. He is also the developer of the "Shark Block Rig" which has proven to be 90% effective in prohibiting gut hooked sharks.

Complete story.

Apex Predators Investigation NOAA

From NOAA page:

During a research cruise (October 2009), we conducted a double tagging experiment to test tag retention. We tagged 250 blue sharks with one tag on each side of the dorsal fin.

The tag numbers to look out for occur in the range 336800 - 337475. If you happen to catch a shark with one of these tag numbers, please make note of how many tags are in the fish.

The Apex Predators Investigation (API) is located at the Narragansett, RI Laboratory of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). We are one of three programs in the Population Biology Branch of the Fisheries and Ecosystems Monitoring and Analysis Division. The mission of the API is to conduct life history studies of commercially and recreationally important shark species.

Our research is focused on distribution and migration patterns, age and growth, reproductive biology, and feeding ecology. We conduct fishery independent surveys of large and small coastal sharks in US waters from Florida to Delaware. Biological samples and catch data are collected at recreational fishing tournaments in the Northeast US.

We administer an extensive Cooperative Shark Tagging Program (CSTP) in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Mediterranean Sea, utilizing thousands of volunteer anglers.

APP staff manages and coordinates the Cooperative Atlantic States Pupping and Nursery (COASTSPAN) Survey, that uses researchers in major coastal Atlantic states to conduct a comprehensive and standardized investigation of valuable shark nursery areas. Information gathered from our research programs provides baseline biological data for the management of large Atlantic sharks.

For more information.