Finally managed to get enough time between recuperating from the trip and moving apartments to sit down and give you all a recap of what I and the rest of the Rulifson lab have been up to for the past week or so. As you may recall, last month we attempted to tag as many spiny dogfish in New England as we could, with the goal of having an equal number both north and south of Cape Cod. We were also attempting to surgically implant acoustic transmitters into 20 spiny dogfish from each side of the Cape. Once again we would be longlining with Mike and Max and gillnetting with Tom and Ryan. All we had to do is finish the job we started in May, with the promise of better weather and more available dags. Simple, right?
The first day had the roughest weather, but we had the advantage of only needing to finish off what we’d started with Tom and Ryan in May. Though the conditions sometimes forced us to brace ourselves and scramble to snatch flying gear, the weather was already better than last time. We managed to get caught up with the gillnet portion of the tagging north of Cape Cod, and then prepared for our southern safari.
Our day out with Mike and Max we went for dogfish towards the south side of the Cape. I was excited for this round because we were fishing near Chatham, which has emerged as a hot spot for great whites. Unfortunately the visibility wasn’t that great so no big sharks were spotted, but we did have some nice calm water and ran into a healthy school of dogfish. Between these two factors we managed to perform all our surgeries and tag all the fish we needed off of the first set.
Our next and final trip out was heading back to the Chatham area with Tom and the gillnets. This time the visibility was fantastic and the water was glass calm, resulting in a ton of wildlife sightings. Unfortunately we got into an odd patch of water where the dogfish were replaced by a bunch of useless striped bass (they aren’t even any good to the gillnetters, who aren’t allowed to keep them). We found the dogfish eventually, and in the process had a better day whale watching than most people who pay good money for the experience. At one point a humpback whale spent a good 10 minutes breaching and fluke-slapping in front of us. Dr. Rulifson got some great video of it that you can see here (I can be heard making smart-ass remarks in the background).
Things got interesting towards the end of the day. Despite meeting the boat at the downright decent hour of 3:30 a.m. we still managed to not find a good school of dogfish until the sun started to set. This resulted in a couple of overnight sets and us sleeping aboard the boat (Tom’s boat does have some comfy bunks). The overnight sets also allowed us to meet one of the most horrific denizens of the sea…
I never spotted any great whites, but we did manage to tag nearly all the dogfish we needed, and have all the acoustic transmitters out. I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest field work recap. I’ll be hitting the road for the entire first half of July, visiting the Hot Girlfriend, hitting up JMIH/AES, and then a little vacation. Posting may be sporadic, but then again I’ve always been more about quality than quantity. Do stick around.