Friday, October 26, 2007

Oh Canada! Thanks for Getting the Giant Bluefin Tagged

Canadian tagging continued in the past two days with super fall weather, calm seas and more success tagging giant bluefin. The Canadian fleet of "TAG" vessels working off Port Hood with Dalhousie Scientists, Dr. Mike Stokebury and Aaron Spares continued tagging with Captain Dennis Cameron and mate Sheldon Gillis of Port Hood, along with vessels specifically working for the TAG team from PEI and New Brunswick. In the past two days 4 more giants were captured brought on board the designated surgery vessel measured, and released successfully with Wildlife Computers Pop up satellite archival tags. The largest fish in the past few days was a butterball of a bluefin- measuring 292 cm CFl and had a half girth of 111 cm. That is one fat fish. The TAG A Giant team has completed the mission- and together we've tagged 15 Giants and 4 have double tags (second short term pop up or an archival). We're very enthusiastic about this effort and look forward to reporting the results.

The Cooperation of the local vessels in the region has been fantastic. Everyone mastered catching, transferring and releasing fish "TAG style" quickly. We have made new friends in this spectacular Cape Breton region and the memories will last a long time. The long term pop up satellite tags are set for 240, 270 and 300 days- and hopefully they will remain on the fish. The major objective is to learn when and if these giants are moving into the Gulf of Mexico for breeding. The tagging effort will be augmented with genetic efforts to identify these fish.

The pictures here show Dr. Mike Stokesbury working with a giant tuna, Bruce Kues of PEI catching a giant- and Steve McGinnis- who captured the last fish today- for the tag team.

Thanks to everyone in the region for making the TAG effort for bluefin successful! These are the largest Giants ever tagged anywhere on the Globe- Thank you Canada.
Yours truly, Dr. Barbara Block, Stanford University

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All Canada Team Tags 4 More Giants

We're pleased to report our all Canada TAG team led by Dr. Mike Stokesbury today

tagged 4 more giant bluefin with a small fleet of TAG boats from Nova Scotia and PEI. The team reports the fish were in the 800 to 900# class. While I am back in my laboratory at Stanford- I am still thinking about the fishing and the giants. It was an awesome place- and considering we were only there a week- its an amazing story to be able to tag such large giant bluefin. Cape Breton was spectacular as a venue and our TAG Surgery vessel Captain Mr. Dennis Cammeron and mate Sheldon Gillis were remarkable people. Our techniques that we've been using- work well- the lip hooks are specially designed titanium hooks that the folks who've done this the most (Andre and Mike) put in the fish at the edge of the lower jaw. We than use as many folks as necessary to pull the fish on the boat- the use of the vinyl slippery mat makes the fish- easy up relatively easy. We irrigate the bluefin on deck- and we see them absolutely enjoy the flow of seawater sucking oxygen as we tag them- you can watch as the opercle flaps

actually move. Than we place the tag in the dorsal side- or sew in an archival- and within 3' we're spinning hte fish around with the mat- and shooting the fish out the door. They kick hard as they say good bye to the

tag team. Currently all the fish are in the 275 to 305 cm class (curved length). The tags all carry a mortality program and thus far we're pleased to say- all systems are go- these fish are surviving just fine. The first fish carried a double mortality tag program- two tags to be sure on survivorship- one short term that popped up and showed the fish making regular dives just after release from the surface to about 50 m depth. This fish's tag popped up some 27 nm from the tagging location and headed to the north.

I've put up a photo of last weeks operations- hopefully with some good weather the TAG team will get all the allocated tags in the ocean and we'll get a better handle on foraging behavior, migrations and spawning location for these Canadian giants.

Friday, October 19, 2007

5 more giants tagged in Canada!

The TAG team was back on the water today and tagged five more giant bluefin. All were in the 900-1,100 pound range. For the first time in TAG history, one of the tagged fish was so big that the trusted 300 cm measuring tape was not long enough to measure it. We'll post photos when the team is back in the lab.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tag-A-Giant in Canada!

Drs. Barbara Block and Andre Boustany are currently up in the small fishing community of Port Hood on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. The bluefin fishery there targets fish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and is known for the very large size of fish that visit those cold northern waters in late summer and early fall. Barbara and Andre are heading up a team that is trying to tag some of those big fish.

Today was their first day on the water, and they caught three fish. One was lost, but they tagged the other two, one of which was 273 cm long and estimated to be 1000 lbs in weight! The weather looks good for tomorrow, and hopefully they'll be successful again.