Saturday, October 31, 2009

Giants Return for our Last Day of Canada Tagging 2009

TAG A Giant fishers from Nova Scotia and PEI- teamed up to produce 4 hook- ups and while one fish pulled hook, three giant bluefin made it to the back of the tagging vessel. Angel Brailyn hooked up first- made the transfer and than we lost the fish just at the lip hook point when the leader touched the hull. It's happenned before for sure (ask TAG wiremen CP Perry & Daryl Brower). Neptuna hooked up in the late afternoon. This fish was brought aboard and measured 261 cm and was estimated at about 750 lbs. and received a tag. Next was Angel Brailyn who had hooked up earlier. They passed the rod again and fought for about 1 hour into the night. The fish was brought aboard in excellent condition and measured 268 cm and was girthy- so estimated about 800 lbs. The ocean was very lively today. Birds everywhere diving on bait. Hundreds of dolphins with us all day. Bluefin were mixed in with them and often seen breaking surface in the middle of groups of dolphins. Some were jumping clear of water- 800 lb fish jumping completely out of the water about 100 feet from the boat.

We're so pleased to have put two more long-term satellite tags in true Canadian giants. We've got at least 10 PATs out all in very big fish- some estimated at 1200 to 1300 lbs. The pop up satellite tags will give us the long distance movements (we can estimate position approximately on a daily schedule or at least get positions several times a week) to help better understand the movements and migrations of the giants that visit the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We'll get a window into their breeding schedules in the Gulf of Mexico and potentially teh Mediterranean Sea. We'll be "listening" for the acoustic tagged fish that with their new pinger tags that will deliver a coded data set that says the number of the tag, sort of "here I am tuna 42034". We can track them within about 300-400m of a listening post- or "receiver" line - one is now located in Cabot Straight and potentially they may acoustically hit another Halifax line off the Nova Scotian shelf. These tags have the potential for long-term monitoring. We hope to "hear" them next season come into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Lines are maintained by the Ocean Tracking Network of which Dr. Mike Stokesbury from our team has a leading role. The acoustic tags were supplied for this very first experiment of external tags (Last year we did internal acoustics) from TAG A GIANT- another first!

Special thanks to our super tag team from Nova Scotia (Dennis, Steve, Bernie and Peter and their mates) and PEI (Bruce Kues et al.) led by Dr. Steve Wilson and students Aaron S. and Naiomi P.. We had challenging weather this season over the 18 days we were camped there, but we're very pleased to have put out satellite and acoustic tags on so many big fish. The water temperature is cooling so we know the bluefin will be heading south shortly. Great fishing here in Canada and some fine fishermen helping garner new knowledge on bluefin tuna.

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