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Entries in sharks (18)

Monday
Jun192017

Which Is the Bigger Threat to the Other? Man or Sharks?

Sunday
Jul312016

Hot-water Stress a Killer for Big Fish, Whether Sharks or Bass

The great hammerhead shark is a magnificent animal. It's also one of 24 shark species illegal to harvest in Florida waters, up to 9 miles off the coast.

Sadly,  four of them washed up on Sarasota beaches in late June and July, according to the Bradenton Herald.

What happened to them? Most likely, they were caught and released, but didn't survive the trauma of the fight and handling.

"This particular species of hammerhead is just so fragile that they go into physiological stress," said Robert Hueter, director of shark research at Mote Marine Laboratory.

One of those stressors during this time of year is the temperature.

Whether shark, catfish, or bass, a fish's metabolism  speeds up in warm water because it is cold-blooded. That means it burns more energy and, as a consequence, must consume  more food to fuel sustain itself. It also means that its oxygen needs are intensified. But . . .

"The hotter the water is, the less oxygen it can hold," Hueter said.

Now factor in the energy and oxygen expended in a struggle to escape once hooked,  and fish die, especially larger fish, which simply cannot recover no matter how carefully they are handled once they are brought to the shore or boat. In essence, they die of exhaustion, unable to gain the oxygen they need to recover.

That's why delayed mortality increases for bass tournaments during summer. And that's why those great hammerheads did not survive.

This dead great hammerhead was hauled back out to sea after recently washing up on a Sarasota beach.Hueter added that hammerheads  likely are especially vulnerable because their mouths are so small in comparison to their bodies.

 “As soon as it’s obvious that it is a hammerhead, the better thing to do would be just to cut the line or cut the leader, get as close as you can to the animal without spending a lot of time pulling it in,” he said. “Cut it and let it go.”

Dragging a shark, or any other large fish, such as a Goliath grouper, onto shore always is stressful for the animal, but especially so during summer. Meanwhile, inshore and beach fishing for sharks is more popular than ever.

"We're seeing more (sharks) than we've seen before washing up on beaches," Hueter said.

The fish is much more likely to survive if kept in shallow water for dehooking and photos.

In addition to hammerheads, bull and black tip sharks also are especially vulnerable to stress. At the other extreme, nurse and lemon sharks are among the hardiest.

Here are some handling tips to help ensure survival. They apply specifically to sharks, but are good tips for handling big fish of many species when caught on bait.

  • Use heavy tackle and non-stainless circle hooks
  • Use a dehooker
  • Cut the leader or line quickly, leaving as little as possible attached to the hook
  • Do not bring sharks out of water
  • Leave shark in enough water so that it can breathe through its mouth and gills
  • Shoot photos in process of releasing

 

Friday
Oct242014

Finding Ways to Tame Lionfish

Years ago, Missouri wildlife managers decided to reduce an exploding deer population in a St. Louis suburb. But instead of culling the herd humanely, they bowed to pressure from animal lovers, and, at great expense, trapped and moved deer to a more rural area.

Follow-up research revealed that those deer died of starvation. They had grown so accustomed to eating tulips, roses, and other domesticated plants that they did not recognize wild forage.

Besides showing the folly of trying to manage wildlife by emotion instead of science, this example reveals one of the reasons that exotic species can become so prolific and troublesome in their new habitats. Native species do not see them as food, and, consequently, their populations are free to grow unchecked by predation.

Down in the Caribbean, divers are trying to do something about that by teaching sharks to eat invasive lionfish. The latter are gobbling up native species, especially reef fish.

“From a scientific point of view, we don't know how successful the project is. But, apparently, recent videos show native top predators are starting to eat lionfish without them being previously speared by divers,” says a marine biologist. (Go here to see some great photos of sharks eating lionfish.)

Meanwhile, lionfish populations have declined around Jamaica because another species is eating the invaders --- man.

Dayne Buddo, a Jamaican marine ecologist who focuses on marine invaders at the Caribbean island's University of the West Indies, attributes much of the local decrease in sightings to a growing appetite for their fillets. He says that Jamaican fishermen are now selling lionfish briskly at markets. In contrast, a few years ago island fishermen "didn't want to mess" with the exotic fish with spines that can deliver a very painful sting.

The same strategy eventually may help us control Asian carp in the nation’s rivers and impoundments. Go here to check out my post about that.

Tuesday
Jul222014

PETA Intensifies Anti-Fishing Campaign 

That bastion of rational thought, PETA, is taking advantage of two recent shark bites to ramp up its campaign against fishing. At both Manhattan Beach in California and Okaloosa Island in Florida, it has been using a plane to fly a banner that says, “Keep Hookers Off  Beach--- No Fishing.”

Yeah, it is just so clever with word play, equating anglers with prostitutes.

The incident in California does seem to call for a compromise of some kind regarding who can use the pier and adjoining beach and when they can use it. PETA and other zealots, meanwhile, want an outright ban on sportfishing.

At least Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth is seems to be the voice of reason.

“I don’t like that we’ve demonized fishermen because one guy was behaving seemingly very horribly,” she said. “I certainly want to make it safe for people to enter the water and water sports.”

She added that the city is considering limiting hours for fishing on the pier.

What did or did not happen when a swimmer came too close to the pier, where an angler was fighting a white shark--- and was attacked--- remains the object of debate. The angler has vigorously defended his actions, and the state has declined to prosecute him.

Manhattan Beach pier. L.A. Times photo

In Florida, meanwhile, a tourist was bitten by a small shark that likely mistook his foot--- or toes--- for fish or shellfish. The media reported that someone was fishing nearby, and PETA took it from there with its anti-fishing campaign.

Almost certainly the shark was a young hammerhead or nurse shark, both of which browse along the bottom in shallow water. Or it might have been a blacktip or spinner, common fish-eating sharks in that area.

The truth is that sharks are common in the shallows all along the coasts of Florida, but the vast majority of them are not man-eaters. Still, I wouldn’t go swimming at night, and I’d always keep a lookout for dorsal fins when I’m in the water during the day. And common sense would tell me not to swim near fishermen.

To show you what I’m talking about, here is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies--- Growing Up With Nature, which will be published later this year:

A couple of years passed before I once again was given the chance to figuratively see the light. This time I was fishing with live shrimp along a low seawall near a beach. “Jaws” had come out that year, and many people were afraid to swim in the ocean.

The 10 or 12 people down to my right, however, either had not seen the movie or didn’t care. Through their yelling and splashing, they left no doubt that they were having a good time.

As I watched them and waited for a bite, I saw a dorsal fin cutting through the water between the beach and the swimmers. “No, it couldn’t be,” I said to myself.

It was. A large shark cruised through the shallows, on its way toward me. I considered yelling to warn the people. But I decided against it, since the predator didn’t seem to be interested in them.

As it neared me, I saw that it was an 8- to 10-foot nurse shark, which is not a man-eater. But it was my first opportunity in a long time to finally catch a big ocean fish.

I cast the shrimp a few feet in front of the shark and waited. I was not disappointed. The big fish took, and I set the hook. In an instant the shark accelerated from a leisurely feeding pace to light speed, as it headed toward deep water.

It ran, and ran, and ran, until it had pulled all the line off my reel. Then the rod bent double, the butt slammed into my stomach, and the knot popped. The shark was gone.

 (If you like fish stories, you’ll enjoy my latest book, Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom from Real Fishermen.)

 

Tuesday
Oct292013

Help Stop Longliners from Damaging Bluefin Tuna Fishery

 

Your help is needed to help end the waste of bluefin tuna in U.S. waters and ensure that longliners --- not recreational anglers --- are the ones held responsible for the incidental bycatch.

“Recreational anglers are leaders when it comes to conserving fish and their habitat,” said Jason Schratwieser, conservation director for the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). “And we’re hoping having recreational anglers sign on this petition will help NOAA Fisheries realize better protection is needed for this species.”

Go here to sign an IGFA-sponsored online petition to urge NOAA Fisheries to strengthen its current proposed rule for bluefin tuna by reducing longline bycatch and protecting bluefin spawning rounds.

Surface longlines kill thousands of game fish, including blue and white marlin, sailfish, sharks and bluefin tuna. In 2012, longliners threw back dead nearly 25 percent of the U.S. bluefin quota. The IGFA is calling on NOAA Fisheries to help reverse this trend by implementing strong measures that will protect spawning bluefin in the Gulf of Mexico and hold surface longliners accountable for bluefin bycatch, both of which mean increased fishing opportunities for recreational anglers.

“Thanks to email and social media it is easier than ever for an angler to spread the word and support this measure,” Schratwieser continued. “It only takes 30 seconds to sign the petition and share it on Facebook or email. Showing fisheries managers that sportsmen are engaged and concerned about our resources is critical to enacting change.”

You can read the proposed full rule here.