Monday, July 7, 2008
TGF Team Onboard F/V Shogun
Our annual tuna tagging and collecting trip has begun aboard the F/V Shogun with Captains Norm & Bruce. We left San Diego on a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon, loaded up with live bait, electronic tags, and sampling gear to study tunas for the next 9 days. Our objectives are to collect small bluefin to bring back to our lab- and to continue the archival tagging of live fish with implantable tags. Our trip is part of the Tagging of Pacific Pelagics program (www.topp.org). Together the tuna team at TOPP has deployed over 1000 electronic tags in Pacific bluefin, yellowfin and albacore tunas. The team has focused implanting tags in Pacific bluefin, with over 430 thus far. In addition we've put in over 239 tags in albacore tuna. Our first day out we headed toward San Clemente Island where there had been a sighting of bluefin tuna in the past week. The sea surface temperature charts looked interesting to the south of the island, and we worked a frontal area from the 43 bank up toward the island. Water temperatures were in the range one would expect for bluefin. We were greeted by fin whales and blue whales, as well as schools of bonitos. Our Ph.D students, Dan and Nishad, sampled the bonitos to compare their physiology and ecology with tunas as we continued looking for bluefin to collect or tag. Sure enough on the first day late in the afternoon, Mr. Chuck Farwell sighted some jumpers that turned out to be the one show of bluefin all day. The fish went down and sunk out of sight when we approached the school, but our spirits were high having seen the right size for collecting so quickly. Seas were calm, food was terrific and the entire team looked forward to having a bite. Word of bluefin to the south of us was solid- so we're hoping to head in that direction in the coming days.