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Jellyfish Invasions Threaten World's Oceans

More than two years ago, Activist Angler began telling you about the growing number of jellyfish “blooms” in our oceans. (Here’s a link to one of those posts.)

Some scientists think that the decline of jellyfish predators (sea turtles, as well as some species of fish) specifically and the decline of fish populations generally are allowing jellyfish to thrive and spread as never before.

But the fact that this phenomenon coincides with an increasing frequency of troublesome alga blooms in freshwater suggests something more is going on.

And that something more likely is pollution. Both types of these blooms thrive in nutrient-rich water, and we provide these nutrients from sewage discharges and runoff laced with fertilizers and manure from farm lands.

 In the way of an update on this problem, I refer you to a recent article at ABC News: "Monsters of the Deep: Jellyfish Threaten the World’s Seas."

Following are a couple of excerpts.

Worldwide Problem

It isn't just a problem in the Mediterranean, but worldwide. Especially in late summer, swimmers in the North and Baltic Seas often encounter lion's mane jellyfish, which are known as "fire jellyfish," and for good reason. Their stringy stinging tentacles are often the color of flames. Far more common in the region are blooms of milky-blue moon jellyfish, which, like the majority of jellyfish species, do not inflict pain on human beings.

Compass and crystal jellyfish now dominate the coastal waters of Namibia, where sardines were once abundant. And since the mid-1990s, fishermen in the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea have complained that their nets are being filled with more and more jellyfish and fewer and fewer fish.

A species prevalent in Japanese waters could provide the material for a horror film: the giant Nemopilema nomurai, or Nomura's jellyfish, with a bell diameter of up to two meters (6 feet, 6 inches). In the last century, there were only three population blooms of the species, in 1920, 1958 and 1995. But Japanese scientists report that the Nomura's jellyfish has invaded Asian waters almost every year since 2002, with only two light years in the interim: 2004 and 2010. The species is so heavy that large numbers caught in nets can capsize fishing vessels.

What does all of this signify? Why are the seas becoming jellified?

Gili wrinkles his brow. "The jellyfish are a message in a bottle that the sea is depositing on our beaches," he says. The ocean's message to mankind, he adds, is simple: "You are destroying me."

Costly and Harmful

 The fact that human beings and jellyfish tangle with one another more frequently than in the past is unpleasant for both sides. It also costs many millions each year, although the exact costs are difficult to estimate. For instance, jellyfish often cause power outages and equipment damage when they enter the cooling water systems of power plants and desalination plants.

Jellyfish are also harmful to fishery. They ruin nets and cause chemical burns on the hands of fishermen. If a jellyfish bloom collides with the nets that separate fish farms from the open water, the creatures' toxins can sometimes kill all of the animals in the enclosures.

And then there is the problem oceanographer Josep Maria Gili can see from his terrace: Jellyfish on the beach, coinciding with the vacation season, are a debacle for tourism. These days it is the reddish, glow-in-the-dark jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca, or mauve stinger, that lurks in the waters off Barcelona. In recent days, Red Cross paramedics have had to treat at least 400 swimmers a day for jellyfish injuries. A yellow warning flag is posted on the beach below, and a voice blaring from loudspeakers warns bathers in Spanish, French and English to be careful around jellyfish.


Oklahoma Fisheries Receive Record Stocking with Florida Bass

Photo by Steve Webber/ODWC

Great news for those who fish for bass in Oklahoma waters.

A record-setting 2.22 million Florida-strain largemouth bass--- fry, fingerlings, and adult fish--- were stocked in 44 lakes this past spring. That was made possible by exceptional production at three of the state’s fish hatcheries.

“We had a good situation this year by having so many fish,” said Cliff Sager, a senior biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife. “Being able to stock 44 lakes, to give so many lakes a shot in the arm with the Florida genetics, just increased the potential for trophy bass production for years to come.

In waters where they thrive, Florida-strain largemouth bass not only grow larger than the northern variety, but hybrids produced when the two cross-breed often experience accelerated growth for a generation or two in a phenomenon known as “hybrid vigor.”

"Oklahoma is really right on the line of where you can expect Florida bass to be successful," said Sager, adding that the southern half of the state has shown much greater success in sustaining Florida-strain bass.

"There's a reason Cedar Lake (in southeastern Oklahoma) has broken the state record the past two years."


And Now a Word from Bill Dance

Photo courtesy of Bill Dance

(As one of world’s best known and most beloved anglers, Bill Dance began his television career in 1968 on an ABC affiliate in Memphis. He was B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year three times during the 1970s, and he is a member of the International Game Fish Association’s Hall of Fame. He also is a good friend This is the opening of his contribution to my book, Why We Fish, a collection of 50 essays.)

I've often said there is a lot more to a fishing trip than just catching fish.  Just being able to go is something mighty special, but what are some of the reasons why we go fishing?

I think that's a question you need to ask yourself.  Fishing means different things to different folks.  For me, fishing is my profession, but it's a profession I dearly love.  What I'm saying is that I'm crazy about my job and let me tell you why.  Maybe some of my reasons are why you fish too.  


Best in Fishing Tackle for 2013

To see the latest in new products for sport fishing go to the Bassmaster site here. These items were voted best of show at the world’s largest fishing tackle trade show in Las Vegas.

Also known as ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades), it is sponsored annually by the American Sportfishing Association.

Personally, I’m looking forward to trying Shimano’s new Chronarch C14+. Made with “a new carbon material,” it is described as being corrosion-proof, light, and “freaky strong.” 


Bass Brigade Doing It Right for Texas Youth

Texas is doing it right in terms of educating young anglers about aquatic ecosystems and natural resource management. Most notably, it is doing it through the Bass Brigade, one of several Texas Brigades youth camps. If you live in Texas, you should check out the program, both to see about opportunties for your children and to contribute.

I received the following from Steve Perry, regarding the 2013 Bass Brigade:

"Thank you, Robert, for donating three autographed copies of Why We Fish to this year's Bass Brigade camp!

"During camp, each cadet is required to design a table top, tri-fold display on topics such as aquatic habits, fish species, conservation, fly fishing, fish sampling etc. We awarded your books as prizes for the top tri-folds.

"Thanks for supporting Bass Brigade and our mission of educating teenagers with leadership skills and knowledge in fisheries, and land stewardship to become conservation ambassadors for a sustained natural resource legacy."