Friday, October 12, 2012

The Shogun Returns

The Shogun team collecting bluefin moved into the second half of the trip focused on tagging bluefin and collecting bluefin and yellowfin tuna. They searched the ocean on the US side of the border and moved back and forth between the waters south of San Clemente Island and Mexican waters. During the day they connected with a large school of bluefin tuna that Captains Aaron and Cole were able to put the team on. Once there tagging commenced and approximately 30 fish were released. A new load of bluefin was collected with fish that were just ranged from 14-25 lbs. 40-50 lb fish were also mixed with the school. It was a great day of fishing, and an enthusiastic crew working together with the scientists managed to get all the tags out- and collect a load of fish for scientific study.

-Dr. Barbara Block

Ted Dunn owner of Shogun, Dr. Block and Chuck Farwell enjoying sunset on Shogun after a super day of tagging and collecting bluefin In October off the waters of San Diego! 

We could have tagged. 100 if we had only had tags!

The Shogun back in San Diego
Alex prepares to move bluefin from the hold

Moving fish
Bluefin swimming in the pool
The movers and the shakers - Nick, Ben, John and Dane

Thursday, October 11, 2012

5 for 5

Bluefin tuna circling before getting tagged

TAG Director Dr. George Shillinger, Robbie Schallert and Captain Dennis Cameron measuring a 259 cm bluefin

Dr. George Shillinger and Robbie Schallert discussing tagging operations

Guest angler Keith Brander battles a bluefin tuna

Dr. Shillinger deploys an acoustic tag

Final sunset over Northumberland Strait
Team Canada, including guest angler Keith Brander and Halifax native Naomi Pleizer, had another epic day on the water...5 hooked and 5 fish left the F/V Bay Queen IV with electronic tags. The bite happened around 2 pm with all three boats (Bay Queen IV, Carrie Anne and Nicole Brandy) simultaneously hooked up. The Bay Queen IV hooked two more fish just before sunset on a flat calm day in the Northumberland Strait.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shogun Expedition, October 7-8

The Tuna Research and Conservation Center team is on the Shogun in October this year- a bit of an unusual time for our bluefin tagging team. The trip started with an enthusiastic team of students, staff and post-docs. On board this year are Chuck and Barb, Stanford Graduate student Dane Klinger, Post-doc John Dale, Technicians, Ethan Estes and Alex North. The team on board is also composed of a trio of Stanford@SEA former undergraduates, Ethan, Laura Lilly and Nick Mendoza. Visiting scientists aboard from CICESE are Oscar, Ana and Maria from Dr. Tim Baumgartner’s and Axa Rocha lab to help in a collaborative research.  We fished to the south- and quickly got into to small spots of yellowfin tuna exactly of the right size we were looking for. This season we’re looking for fish to swim in our flume and starting out with a 15 lb tuna helps as the smaller 8-10 lb fish will occasionally turn around making the studies challenging.  We collected about 5 of this size and continued to the south. The conditions were a bit rough and never improved but the fish showed up bright and early the second day of fishing. We had a wonderful set of stops on kelps where the entire pelagic community was hanging out- with yellowtail, Mahi and yellowfin tuna. Petrels flew above and it was a super fun stop with lots of great fishing action and a loaded vessel with yellowfin. We’re heading back up the line to drop the fish off for truck transport back to the lab. We plan to collect and tag some bluefin tuna in the next few days.

-Dr. Barbara Block

Yellowfin tuna collected on the first leg of the trip

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Da Bumps"

Back on the water after another day of windy weather, we headed to a place known as “Da Bumps”, a shoaling area off Cape George, about a 1.5 hour run from Port Hood.  We started marking fish immediately, but our search was interrupted by a call from Captain Bernie Chisholm (Nicole Brandy), alerting us that he and his mates on the Nicole Brandy had a fish on!

Captain Dennis Cameron on the Bay Queen IV

Captain Dennis Cameron readies the squid rig
We stopped fishing and raced westward, in the direction of Fisherman’s Bank (see October 7 blog), to catch up with the Nicole Brandy. Approximately 45 minutes later, Captain Dennis Cameron pulled alongside the Nicole Brandy and we successfully transferred the first fish of the day to the Bay Queen IV. We opted to  deploy an acoustic tag on the 259 cm CFL fish and then quickly released her back into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. 

Tuna transfer form the Nicole Brandy to the Bay Queen IV

Craig Cameron reeling in a bluefin
Although the forecast called for diminishing winds, the winds increased steadily through the afternoon.  We headed back towards the “Da Bumps”, scanning the sea for diving gannets and steadily marking large fish.

Dr. George Shillinger and Robbie Schallert

We finally hooked up again around 5:00 p.m. but lost the fish to a pulled hook about thirty minutes later. 
Inspired by numerous marks on the scanner, registering fish from 40-60’, we opted to give the tuna one more try.  We headed back to the exact same spot where we hooked the second fish and hooked up immediately – only to lose another fish (again to a pulled hook) right at the rail.

Almost there...
That was enough fishing for October 8. We headed home, arriving back at the docks around 8:00 p.m. For now, tomorrow’s marine forecast looks very promising – winds < 10 kts…could be a great day!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fisherman's Bank

After a lengthy stay on shore due to bad weather, the TAG team went out to Fisherman's Bank on Friday and had another very productive day. Dennis Cameron's Bay Queen IV was the tagging boat and Bernie Chisholm on the Nicole Brandy and Steve McGinnis on the Carrie Anne were the catch boats. Located near the coast of Prince Edward Island, Fisherman's Bank is a 2.5 hour trip from our home port of Port Hood, Cape Breton Island - so it was a long day as we left the harbor at 6 am and returned at 9 pm. Bluefin tuna aggregate on the bank to feed on schools of spawning herring at this time of year. After the herring complete this annual ritual, they move off the bank and so do their predators.

Dennis Cameron aboard the Bay Queen IV.
Bernie Chisholm aboard the Nicole Brandy.
Steve McGinnis aboard the Carrie Anne.
Troy Cameron fights a bluefin on the tagging boat.
Winds were light and it was a beautiful day. Four large fish (273-284 cm) were tagged with both a mini-PAT and an acoustic tag and a smaller fish (218 cm) was tagged with just an acoustic tag.

Dr Steve Wilson attaches electronic tags to a 284 cm giant Atlantic bluefin tuna.