Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Ya Like Dags? Social Guide to Rhode Island

Two posts in two days?  It's like I'm a real blogger all the sudden.

The occasion for this post is that next week I'll be participating in the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.  I'll be presenting a poster on my work as well as seeing an almost impossible number of shark talks thanks to the fact that the American Elasmobranch Society is rolling deep at this conference.  However, being at a conference alone is not what this post is about.  This post is about Rhode Island.

This particular conference is taking place in Providence, Rhode Island and is hosted by my undergrad alma mater.  Aside from being able to reconnect with some of my old professors and peers as well as being able to spend some time in a state I still very much consider home, this also presents me with an opportunity to show some of my North Carolinian colleagues (and any other shark people out there who want to hang out) just how awesome my little state can be.  Below the jump are some of my favorite places in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.  I know that some of my old Rhody friends know of places that I've overlooked, so feel free to add any other points of interest in the comments.

Monday, June 28, 2010

First New England Great White of 2010

I'm headed back up to my motherland of Rhode Island next week for the Joint Meeting of Icthyologists and Herpetologists (mainly because of the heavy AES presence there), and it seems the great whites are going to be there to greet me.  The first New England great white of the summer has surfaced off of Boston, where it was caught, tagged, and released by a group of Gloucester fishermen.  The Dorsal Fin has a looped video of the shark taken by the fishermen.  Maybe I should bring my snorkeling gear with me...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Feeding Habits Analysis: Detective Work Part 2

In my previous post on the detective work necessary for any good feeding habits analysis, I lamented the apparent lack of a "one-stop shop" for looking up fish scales (at least as far as I've been able to find).  In response, I've been saving scales from fishes I've been albe to ID down to species level.  The idea is to match up these "type" scales with the scales often found with the unclassifiable chunks of fish that often show up in spiny dogfish stomach contents.  Below the jump you'll find the first three species in Chuck's Field Guide to Spiny Dogfish Bait.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Marine Rewilding?


It's amazing what you'll catch in the letters to the editor sometimes.  In the latest issue of Fisheries Magazine is a classic back-and-forth editorial origination from an article by researcher John. C. Briggs.  At first my interest was piqued simply by the fact that there was something ocean-related (since the start of my subscription Fisheries has been utterly dominated by freshwater articles), but reading the debate motivated me to go back and track down the original article.  What I found was one of the more unusual takes I've seen on the management of Atlantic fisheries, and an interesting parallel with a highly controversial conservation strategy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Angry Post

You may have noticed that I haven't been saying much about the white elephant (or big black blob) in the ocean.  This is for two reasons: first, I try to stick to my main subjects here, which are dogfish, shark research, and fisheries management.  I like to throw in some oddball internet stuff every so often but in general I try to write what I know.  Secondly, the BP disaster is being covered much more thoroughly in other forums.  Deep Sea News has been following the story from the beginning, and Southern Fried Science has a handy list of other places you can check to follow the progress of the oil as it destroys the Gulf of Mexico and potentially the entire Atlantic coast. 

Documents released today (or at least reported on today) reveal that BP knowingly and willingly cut corners in order to save time and money.  The company ignored advice from Halliburton that could have made the well much safer, and even turned a deaf ear to the Deepwater Horizon's own chief engineer, who called the situation a "nightmare well." 

I guess we can stop the finger pointing now (though BP CEO Tony Hayward's appearance before Congress on Thursday should be a hoot).  Yet again we see the end result of trusting profit-motivated entities to regulate themselves.  Will this time finally be the time we learn that this is a bad idea?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Feeding Habits Analysis: Detective Work

As anyone who's ever done a diet study will tell you, you end up getting a lot of unverifiable gunk in your study animal's stomach contents.  Sometimes enough of the consistency remains that you can tell generally what this chunk of meat used to be.  For example, it's pretty easy to tell fish meat from anything else thanks to identifying features like white meat and the pattern of musculature.  However, getting beyond this stage takes a little more work and creativity.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New England Great Whites Return

Here's an incredibly timely news item, given that my last post was a little Carcharodon carcharias humor and I'm watching "Expedition Great White" as I write this.  Last summer five great whites were tagged with satellite tracking tags as they hung out right off the beaches of Cape Cod.  Data coming in from the tags now suggests that at least one of the tagged sharks is on its way back for the summer.  There is anecdotal evidence that great white numbers are increasing off of New England, most likely due to the Cape's burgeoning harbor seal population.

This is great news for the marine ecosystem of New England, and ironically, for some surfers I've spoken to from the area.  I've heard stories of bull harbor seals harassing surfers right out of the water, so some among the Cape Cod surfing community are actually welcoming the return of the sharks.  Hopefully the chambers of commerce in the beachside towns of Cape Cod will be as reasonable.

This is a story I've been following as an amateur for a while.  Even though the main focus of this blog is sharks of a considerably smaller size, as both a salty New Englander and a big fan of sharks in general I get pretty enthusiastic about the return of great whites to the Northeast. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

New House, New Pet?

I'll be moving into a new apartment next month, and I've been wondering whether I want to get a pet to take advantage of the extra space.  Thanks to Rob for bringing this to my attention and helping me with the decision.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Woo! 50th post!

6 months, 50 posts.  Not a bad pace so far.  As the world watches the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico and I prepare for another boat trip out to Cape Lookout (now that we've found the holdover population, the next step is to measure and tag some of them) let's take a moment to enjoy some video of the mighty spiny dogfish.  The first video shows the graceful movement and skittish behavior shown by spiny dogfish interacting with divers.  The second is the dogfish as consummate mesopredator, savaging a baited camera and driving off cod as they attempt to get a piece of the action.  Thanks for reading so far, and stick around for more small shark action. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Great Memorial Day Dogfish Hunt

Earlier I posted on a population of spiny dogfish that seem to be hanging out south of Cape Hatteras long after they are supposed to have migrated north.  As of this past weekend stories of spiny dogfish stealing bait and chasing fish continued from the waters between Morehead City and Cape Lookout.  On Monday a team comprised of Dr. Rulifson, Jen, Dan Z, and myself set out to the shallow, sandy waters on the inside of the Cape Lookout hook in search of these hungry stragglers.  Read on to see how the mission went...