Friday, May 3, 2013

TAG North Carolina 2013 – It’s a wrap!

Tag-A-Giant North Carolina 2013 – It’s a wrap!

TAG wrapped up another season in North Carolina on April 3, 2013.  Despite some challenging weather and scrappy fishing conditions, we managed to squeeze in six fishing days on the Sensation, during which we tagged five bluefin tuna (3 fish double-tagged with acoustic and archival tags, one fish double-tagged with a PAT and archival tag, and 1 fish tagged with an acoustic tag). We caught one particularly large tuna (234 cm CFL ~ 550 lbs) but the other fish were all in the 200-250 lb range.

As always, TAG North Carolina delivered on excitement, camaraderie, and adventure --- with some good fishing in the mix too.  I’ve shared a few of these memories below.

Herbert C. Bonner Bridge

A classic North Carolina fishing day out of Oregon Inlet starts early --- with views of dawn bursting over Pamlico Sound.  We punch through the spans of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge (2.7-mile bridge built in 1963) point towards the Gulf Stream, threading the shoals as we go.

Departing Oregon Inlet through the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge at dawn.
TAG welcomed a team of three ‘Wills’ (Will Graham, Will Herring, and Will Thames) on behalf of the 2012 Reelin’ for Research Tournament winners (lead by Matt Logan).  TAG is proud to sponsor the Reelin’ for Research Tournament through the donation of a Research Charter for tournament winners. The 5th Annual Reelin’ for Research Tournament begins Saturday, May 4th, 2013, with the goal of “fighting” to “land” a cure for the kids!  This year the tournament hopes to raise $500,000!  To learn more about Reelin for Research, please visit:   

The three ‘Wills’ – Will Thames (left), Will Graham (center), and Will Herring (right) join the TAG team on a special TAG Research Charter donated to the Reelin’ for Research Tournament.

Windy weather and sloppy seas were frequent during the 2013 TAG North Carolina deployment
Although we didn't catch any tuna with the Reelin’ for Research team, we enjoyed some excellent wildlife viewing, including pilot whales and breaching humpback whales!

Humpback whale breaching in the Gulf Stream off the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Humpback whale breaching in the Gulf Stream off the Outer Banks, North Carolina.
On March 31, we were joined by a team from Durham, North Carolina -- Jen Poole, Samir Arora, and Ted O'Hanlan.  Also onboard were three recently rehabilitated turtles (one loggerhead, and two juvenile Kemps Ridleys) , whom we released into the warm waters of the Gulf Stream on behalf of the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island (NCARI)
TAG Director, Dr. George Shillinger, prepares to release a rehabilitated juvenile Kemp’s Ridley turtle into the Gulf Stream
Alan ‘Big Country’ Scibal and Dr. George Shillinger release a rehabilitated loggerhead turtle into the Gulf Stream.
 During three of our six fishing days, we caught, tagged, and released bluefin tuna.

TAG researchers, Dr. Andre Boustany (left) and Dr. George Shillinger (right) deploy both an archival and acoustic tag on a North Carolina bluefin.
TAG researchers, Dr. Andre Boustany (inserting tag) and Dr. George Shillinger (irrigating fish) tag a North Carolina bluefin
We were joined by several other friends of TAG, including Richard Montana (co-founder of the Reelin’ for Research Tournament), and TAG supporter, John Pazienza, who travelled from Florida to join for two days on the water.

 Alan ‘Big Country’ Scibal waits while Richard Montana fights a bluefin on the Sensation.

Dr. Andre Boustany assesses a tuna while Dr. Shillinger prepares a tag for deployment.

Captain Charles Perry (‘CP’) stands ready as anglers John Pazienza and Alan Sciabal fight a bluefin double-header on the Sensation.

‘Big Country’ takes a wrap as angler John Pazienza fights from the chair and Dr. George Shillinger (with liphook) and Dr. Andre Boustany prepare to deck and tag the fish.

TAG Director, Dr. George Shillinger and TAG scientist Dr. Andre Boustany measure a bluefin. 
In addition to the humpback whale show, we had a close encounter with a big basking shark.

‘Big Country’ watches as a big basking shark swims past the Sensation.
As anglers and scientists, we know that successful fishing is never guaranteed – anytime we travel anywhere to tag fish.  However, one thing is certain for sure with TAG North Carolina – great camaraderie and an awesome opportunity to partake in a globally important research initiative!

From left to right, First Mate Alan ‘Big Country’ Scibal, Captain Dale Britt, TAG Director, Dr. George Shillinger, and TAG Scientist, Dr. Andre Boustany gather for a family-style seafood pasta dinner.

The TAG 2013 North Carolina Team at Oregon Inlet -- From left to right, First Mate Alan ‘Big Country’ Scibal, TAG Director, Dr. George Shillinger, TAG Scientist, Dr. Andre Boustany , Captain Charles (‘CP’) Perry, and Captain Dale Britt, stand in front of the FV Sensation.
We owe a special debt of gratitude to all whom have contributed their time, energy, and passion to furthering the research mission and vision of Tag-A-Giant.  We appreciate your support and look forward to TAG North Carolina 2014!

No comments: