Close

Login

Logging In
Invalid username or password.
Incorrect Login. Please try again.

not a member?

Signing up could earn you gear and it helps to keep offensive content off of our site.

April 16, 2010

AFTCO / Guy Harvey Blog

Fish around the world with Guy Harvey and guests

The Lovely Menace: Invasion of the Lionfish

by Tara Morin and Mahmood Shivji

The colorful and charismatic lionfish are proliferating on the coral reefs of Bermuda, Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Although non-native to the Atlantic, it's becoming hard to miss them in many areas. That's good, you might be thinking. Divers spend a lot of money to travel to coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific where these fishes are native and provide visual delights for underwater photographers. Whip out those cameras - an added attraction has shown up to add zing to the diving experience on Atlantic coral reefs, you say.

Unfortunately, like most invasive species scenarios - recall the ecological and economic mess created by the infamous zebra mussel - the lionfish introduction and rapid geographic spread is proving far from ecologically harmless to Atlantic coral reefs. In fact, scientists are quite concerned that lionfish may be completely reinventing the western north Atlantic coral reef ecosystem - permanently!

What are these lionfish doing in the Atlantic in the first place and what's going on? Here's some background: Lionfish belong to the scorpionfish family (which includes the venomous scorpionfish and stonefish). Even if you don't dive you've likely seen them as they are very popular in the aquarium trade.

Two species are now known to occur in the western Atlantic: the red lionfish (Pterois volitans) and the devil firefish (Pterois miles), with the former occurring in much greater numbers. The two species are similar looking and it took DNA evidence to confirm that there are indeed two species that have invaded the Atlantic. They've been around for a while, with the first observation in the Atlantic occurring near Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1985! Considered a rarity at first, lionfish populations have exploded over the past 25 years and especially over the past decade, spreading far north and south. They now range at least from Bermuda to Venezuela. It's really worth tracking their remarkable and disconcertingly fast spread at: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/fish/Lionfishanimation.gif. If you dive in the Bahamas you'll know that they are over running the reefs.

So what's the worry?

It's an ecological nightmare. In spite of a mountain of unknowns, researchers agree on a few key points: lionfish are voracious predators and prolific breeders. They devour the young of other reef fish species, including several commercially important species, and even crustaceans such as newborn lobsters.

In addition to their own direct impact on reducing other fish populations by predation, lionfish are outcompeting native fishes for food. Not a good scene for native fishes. Lionfish can suck up about 80% of all small or immature fish in a section of reef in only five weeks. Their predation on young herbivorous fish also means reduced control of algae, which can overgrow and kill coral.

How bad is it? There are enormous concerns that lionfish will completely change and possibly destroy Atlantic coral reefs by overrunning them and shrinking their native biodiversity, and that the ongoing damage is severe and possibly irreparable. So far, there is no known quick-fix, and the problem is escalating exponentially.

Lionfish are the lions of the Atlantic reefs; they sit enthroned near the top of the food web where almost nothing eats them. Scientists don't fully understand why lionfish have no natural predators in the Atlantic. Observed cases of lionfish being eaten by other fish are so few that they can be counted on one hand. Would-be predators seem to shy away from the lionfish's poisonous appearance - even when lionfish are in their larval stage. Possibly for this reason, invasive lionfish have encountered practically no natural opposition since their introduction, when the first individuals were probably dumped into the Atlantic as unwanted aquarium pets. Without effective population control, the lionfish - also called the red firefish - spread like, well, wildfire.

It's easy to see why. Lionfish reach sexual maturity in only about one year. For the rest of their adult lives, female lionfish lay batches of 25,000-30,000 eggs almost twice a week (about every four days). Do the math, and you will quickly discover what this means. Each year, there are easily over two million eggs for each female lionfish. These eggs quickly develop into living vacuum cleaners. Each lionfish eats fish up to two-thirds of its own size, and lionfish stomachs stretch up to thirty times their normal size when feeding.

Ironically, studies are showing that lionfish are now present in higher densities in some Atlantic regions than they are in their native Indo-pacific habitats! Maybe the Atlantic environment is just making female and male lionfish more romantic. Or maybe it's a lack of predator thing. Or maybe their Atlantic prey have fewer defenses?

So, what can be done? Many scientists think that the rapid pace of lionfish population growth and geographic spread means that nothing can completely stop the destruction by this invading beauty. But perhaps the momentum can be slowed if control measures are quickly and widely implemented.

Lionfish meat is excellent in taste and texture, and lionfish dishes have been added to the menus of many exclusive restaurants. In fact, the US federal government's chief fisheries management agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has developed an "Eat Lionfish" campaign to increase the public's awareness of the issue and create a consumer market for this tasty invader. Several coastal communities host fishing events called lionfish derbies where prizes go to the anglers who catch the most, and an enormous celebratory barbecue comes at the end of each derby. Many recreational anglers would attest that, after a long day of fishing, grilled lionfish with a cold beer is a hard treat to beat!

These triumphs, however, are small ones. Fishing alone cannot solve the lionfish problem. It will also take both education and dedication. As an increasingly prominent marine "poster child" against non-native species release, the lionfish example further proves that release can have unpredictable, unprecedented, and literally dire consequences. Please never release your exotic pets. A simple desire to let one animal "have a better life" in the wild can so easily create an irreparable ecosystem and economic mess.

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:www.guyharveysportswear.com


Guy Harvey on "The Blackfin Tuna"

by Guy Harveyguy

My most memorable encounters with blackfins were off Belize while filming whale sharks. The mixed schools of blackfins, skipjack tuna and bonitos were corralling small sardines, which in turn attracted the attention of young whale sharks. Snorkeling was the way to go. With video camera in hand, I got some superb footage of the combined effect of the tunas corralling the prey and the whale shark taking advantage of the bonanza. The sardines would swim into the open mouth of the whale shark at the surface to escape the bombardment by tunas. The ever-present silky sharks also joined in the food fest.

Blackfins are the most common small tuna around the Cayman Islands and can be caught year round along the deep drop off, but tend to aggregate around the ends of the islands where the current hits the wall. They are plentiful at 12 Mile Bank, and are targeted by commercial and sports fishermen for use as bait. Anglers use a small feather lure, pink works well, trolled at 4 - 8 knots to catch these scrappy fighters. They are used for live bait to catch bigger yellowfin tuna, wahoos or blue marlin. They are good food fare in their own right but hardly ever reach eight pounds in our waters.

The best way to see blackfins here is to snorkel off the end of 12 Mile bank, either the NE corner or the SW corner in the deep water close to the edge. You can drift and get picked up by your boat to repeat the drift and see these speedsters cruising by. You are likely to encounter other blue water species like rainbow runners, flying fish, wahoos and even the odd blue marlin.

For some reason, the full grown blackfins of 20-40 pounds do not frequent the waters of the central Caribbean. In Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and further south to Central America, they come jumbo-sized averaging 25 pounds. In Jamaica and Cayman, I have caught many in the half pound size range, which are less than a year old. This suggests that these juveniles migrate to the western and northern Caribbean as adults in search of better feeding opportunities. When and how they complete the cycle is not known as little migratory research has been done on this species. The known range for blackfins is from the NE of the USA as far south as Brazil and they are limited to the western Atlantic, unlike many of their relatives like the yellowfin tuna and skipjack tuna that are cosmopolitan species.

guy

In Florida, blackfin tuna have an extended spawning season from April to October and from May to September in the Gulf of Mexico. It is likely they spawn year round in the Caribbean, as I have seen active gonads in blackfins caught here in every month.

Blackfins feed largely on pelagic crustaceans, larvae and juvenile crabs, shrimp, squid as well as small fish and fish larvae. I have often seen them plunder schools of juvenile puffer fish and sardines frequently clearing the surface in high jumps as they come speeding from below onto the prey at the surface. They also feed on any juvenile fish that shelter beneath flotsam. In this situation, if frigate birds are around, they will swoop down and pick the sargassum weed up in their bill, fly several feet, then drop the weed so as to expose the small fish hiding beneath the weed to the tunas. I have yet to see how this benefits the frigate bird!

In turn, blackfin tuna are consumed by larger tunas, king mackerel, barracudas, wahoo and blue marlin, plus a variety of fast ocean-going sharks. The sight of a blue marlin chasing blackfins is amazing- the ocean drama of predator-prey interaction at its best.

If you see black fin tuna on a menu in a local restaurant as sushi, seared or sautéed, give it a try, you will be happy with your choice. They are fished sustainably here in Cayman and elsewhere in their range. It is our collective responsibility to conserve the marine environment and maintain the biodiversity of the planet.

Dive safely, fish responsibly.

-Guy Harvey

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:www.guyharveysportswear.com

 


COOPERATIVE CONSERVATION IN CAYMAN - Part II

by Guy Harvey

Our late evening dives were scheduled for 6 p.m. just as the sun was dipping below the horizon. Some DoE staff used rebreather gear to get deeper than the rest of the researchers, and could also stay longer to film the spawning.

The sight of the excited milling groupers was as impressive as many of the great underwater experiences I have witnessed. I have filmed schools of bluefin tuna, great white sharks, marlin, sailfish, whale sharks, whales and dolphins. I've done racing drift dives in the Galapagos and on the Great Barrier Reef- this one ranks right up there among them. As it grew dark, the males chased the gravid females in pre-spawning behavior called "caging". Using bright lights, the footage we took of this behavior was tremendous. As a result of caging, the females shot upwards of twenty feet or more, the other males rushed in from the side to join the action and the gametes were released in a cloud that reduced the visibility temporarily. As the night came on, this process was repeated many times before we had to leave them.

We saw tiger groupers, yellowfin groupers and black groupers, all congregating at the SPAG at the same time as the Nassau groupers. Black jacks, horseye jacks and bar jacks were getting things going as well.

With the spawning complete, the groupers started to head back to their home patch reef, thus, their numbers dwindled. All of them, returning along the steep reefs of Little Cayman to take up their former positions.

guy

The protection of groupers on the SPAGs was working. The regulations have been adequate so far, but as the groupers start to recover, they require more protection, not more fishing. Scott Heppell could not have put it better in his interview with me; "Like growing your bank account, increasing the stock size yields higher dividends without cutting into your principle. Ultimately, the sacrifice involved with rebuilding stocks will put us in a position to catch more fish." This is what the (disgruntled) fishermen in the Cayman Islands need to comprehend.

There are challenges during the rebuilding process while we are investing more groupers in the "bank", which is where we currently stand in Little Cayman. During the rebuilding process there are more fish in the water long before the rebuilding goal is attained. The existence of more fish, through conservation efforts by the DoE, could lead to higher catch rates, which would cause a short circuit in the rebuilding process, putting us back to where we were ten years ago. The challenge is to limit catch rates during rebuilding and then manage the bigger bank account without eating into your capital (brood stock) once the stock is rebuilt.

At present, the DoE does a very good job of keeping user groups informed about conservation measures and holds several town meetings annually to appraise fishermen about the natural history of the Nassau grouper and the relevance of their conservation measures. These meetings are well advertized and promoted. I was staggered at the last meeting held in West Bay in February when not one person from the community showed up.

My recommendations for additional conservation measures are as follows;

1) Review and check that the existing boundaries of the SPAGS are accurate.

2) Extend the no fish zone to two miles around each SPAG, but keeping the same period of exclusion, November 1 to March 31. (Remember many other species of grouper, snapper and jacks spawn in the SPAGs at the same time as the Nassau grouper.) SPAGs are VERY important to protect for the benefit of the reef ecosystem.

3) Total protection for Nassau groupers in all three islands during spawning season, November 1 to March 31. No catch, no sale, no possession. Nassau groupers are getting ready to spawn during these months and those that have survived the year should be allowed to spawn. At this stage of the recovery every single fish is important.

4) Raise the minimum length of eligible Nassau grouper from 12 inches to 18 inches. A 12 inch fish is a juvenile and has not yet spawned. It is reasonable to allow fish to spawn once to replace themselves before they are recruited into a fishery.

5) Allow limited fishing for Nassau groupers for the remainder of the year outside of marine parks, but, with a limit of one fish per boat per day. Undersized fish brought to the surface may easily be released and returned to the reef using the correct weighted barbless hook technique. If it has not been done so, the DoE can demonstrate this effective conservation method to fishermen.

Looking at the bigger picture, Little Cayman, with its unique red footed boobies and frigate bird colonies, the indigenous rock iguana, the tarpon lake, Bloody Bay wall and the Nassau grouper, all add up to a very special place that we need to conserve. The title "World Heritage Site" comes to mind.

It will be great to get feedback from the public. You can write a letter by email to;

The Premier, Honourable McKeeva Bush mckeeva.bush@gov.ky

The Minister of the Environment, Mark Scotland mark.scotland@gov.ky

Marine Conservation Board Chairman, Don Foster dfoster@candw.ky

Secretary of the MCB, Phillippe Bush phillippe.bush@gov.ky

Director of the Dept of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie gina.ebanks-petrie@gov.ky.

Letters may be sent to Gina Ebanks-Petrie, Dept of Environment, CI Government, PO Box 486, Grand Cayman KY1-1106.

It is our collective responsibility to conserve the marine environment and maintain the biodiversity of the planet.

Dive safely, fish responsibly.

-Guy Harvey PhD.

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:www.guyharveysportswear.com

 


 

COOPERATIVE CONSERVATION IN CAYMAN-Part I

by Guy Harvey

Returning from an inspiring documentary shoot in Little Cayman last week, I have been itching to tell the story of how cooperation between the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and government entities is working to assist in the conservation of fish species in the Cayman Islands. Following the public outrage of the massive extraction of Nassau groupers at their spawning sites in the Sister Islands nine years ago, the Marine Conservation Board (MCB) acted on a recommendation from the Department of Environment (DoE) to close the Spawning Aggregation (SPAG) sites to any form of fishing for eight years. For a small nation that heavily depends on diving tourism for income, that was a smart move. Hooray for common sense!

My opening line in the documentary goes "Throughout the warm waters of the western Atlantic and the Caribbean, one species of fish that stands out as the icon of the coral reef environment?the Nassau grouper." So why are we still catching Nassau grouper if their numbers are so low?

guy1

Protection for the spawning adults was quickly put in place. Meanwhile, Nassau groupers over 12 inches in length, could be caught for the rest of the year anywhere in their range in the Cayman Islands. Eight years have flown by. The ban on fishing the SPAGs is now up for review by the MCB just as the results of all this effort are just starting to pay off for the Nassau groupers. It is quite apparent that this conservation effort (via closed areas and closed seasons) needs to continue for generations to come. As an icon in the Caribbean, the Nassau grouper is featured in photographs, calendars, logos, signage, and in television shows from Belize to Trinidad. Nassau groupers can be conditioned toward divers and can make a divers experience go from a good dive to a great dive when one is encountered.

What impressed me most about this research effort was that every aspect of the life history of the Nassau grouper has been studied. Brice and Christy Semmens are leading the charge. Christy is the Scientific Director at REEF (please visit http://www.reef.org/). They were assisted by Dr. Steve Gittings who is National Science Coordinator of the National Marine Sanctuaries at NOAA as well as several other PhD students and volunteers. In addition, the Cayman Island Dept. of Environment has conducted age and growth studies as well as tracking, using sonic transducers and listening receivers deployed around all three islands. Lead in the field by Phil Bush, with James, Keith, Delwyn and Kevin, the DoE played a most important role in delivering logistical support and personnel, critical in the execution of the research. Use of the RV "Sea Keeper" was critical as a large platform from which to dive in rough seas and strong currents.

Because one SPAG site on the western end of Little Cayman was deemed as still viable, most of the research effort has been concentrated there. Heavier fishing pressure around Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman, have taken its toll, resulting in only a few hundred adults still turning up for the annual spawn.

So how did we arrive at this situation? The biology of the Nassau grouper works against its chances of accommodating any prolonged level of exploitation because it is a long lived, slow growing fish. This species aggregates in large numbers annually in the same place at the same time of year. Once humans find out about these "grouper holes", greed takes over and they are fished until annihilated. Many species of grouper have the same spawning behavior. As a good example of how effective conservation can be, only twenty years of protection for the biggest of all groupers, the goliath grouper, has resulted in a revival of this species in Florida. The black grouper, yellowfin, red grouper and Nassau grouper, all need the same protection if they are to recover.

Historically the Cayman islanders fished the groupers in the grouper holes taking just what they needed. Apparently, twenty fish per day, per boat was the typical catch. As there was no refrigeration, the fish were salted and dried for later consumption. During grouper season, so many groupers were drying at homes on East End, you could smell them from Pease Bay and Bodden Town if the wind was right. At some point in the 1950s and 60s, the word got out and mother boats came from Jamaica to buy Nassau groupers from the local fishermen. They put the catch on ice and took the fish back to Jamaica to sell. Tens of thousands of Nassau groupers were caught each season resulting in a steady decline. With no quotas or limits, the population became a shadow of its pre-exploitation levels. Since then, relentless fishing by, local artisanal fishermen, of the remaining adults at the SPAGs, further reduced each SPAG to the hundreds. The same story has taken place throughout the range of the Nassau grouper. Now, before it is too late, renewed efforts in grouper conservation in the Bahamas and in the eastern Caribbean are being initiated based on the example set by Cayman.

Once, it was widely believed that recruitment of juvenile reef species to an oceanic island population was brought about by larval drift from other islands and land masses up current. The misconception prevailed that the Nassau grouper "can't done, and more will come from the ocean". Eight years of current and tide studies now show that the fertilized eggs from the SPAGs on Little Cayman leave the island for a short period, but then are brought back by the current eddy or gyre. The parent groupers wait until the current is slack to spawn and the fertilized eggs are broadcast at dusk, reducing predation. The eggs hatch into larvae while suspended in the plankton and grow into juveniles before settlement on the reef. Drift studies conducted by REEF and by Dr. Scott Heppell of Oregon State University show that the larvae do not travel far from Little Cayman-some may also end up on Cayman Brac. During daylight hours, mortality of eggs, larvae and juveniles is very high due to other planktonic predators.

guy2

In addition, the scientific team proved that the brood stock participating in the SPAGs only came from Little Cayman and not from Cayman Brac, Grand Cayman, Pickle Bank, Jamaica or Cuba, as some fisherman believed. In fact, there is very little connectivity of island populations throughout the Caribbean, which strengthens the case for conservation of each island's brood stock or "capital".

Sonic tracking and visual observations by divers prove that all the mature Nassau groupers travel from their home reef patch on Little Cayman to the SPAG around the time of the full moon in January, February and March. Here, divers still see the grouper migration by day heading to the west as they respond to the reproductive stimuli that have operated successfully for millions of years, enabling sustainable existence for all that time? until man came into the picture.

Another detrimental influence caused by man is the invasion of a Pacific species, the Lionfish. We were joined in Little Cayman by Chris Flook of the Bermuda Aquarium. Lionfish are a small but highly aggressive predator on Cayman reef and have severely impacted smaller reef fish and invertebrates. Chris said, that in Bermuda, they have taken over many cleaning stations, first eating the species that clean other reef fish, including groupers, and then, lie in wait for other fish coming to be cleaned. The same must be happening here. They will also consume juvenile groupers. Research work on lionfish is also being conducted at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) where local dive operators are helping in the collection and eradication of this very dangerous and invasive species. Juvenile Nassau groupers being recruited from the plankton to the reef environment have to avoid another unfamiliar predator, the lionfish.

During the day, the DoE and REEF teams ran a number of counts to estimate the adults participating in the SPAG. About seventy groupers were tagged with spaghetti tags as well as divers using visual and video counts to obtain these estimates. Other divers used lasers attached to underwater video cameras to measure individual fish without having to catch them.

Many groupers stayed close to the bottom or on the bottom and in coral crevices during the day. In the afternoon, they formed a larger cohesive school, and the closer they got to the spawning night, the more the grouper changed colour. Some turned dark losing their characteristic banded pattern, while others assumed a bi-colour phase dark chocolate brown above and brilliant white below with a white stripe through the eye.

- Guy Harvey

See our next week's blog for Part II

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:www.guyharveysportswear.com

 


Small Lures For Billfish

by Peter B Wright

Bait and switch, also known as pitching bait, is a great way to fish for world records. By trolling hookless lures as teasers then throwing out a bait on the appropriate line class results in almost every bite being a potential world record. It is also an exciting way to fish for billfish. It is dramatically NOT the most efficient way to catch billfish!

"That was a cluster!" is often the last word from a frustrated captain, who could see it all unfold and come unraveled. The average amateur crew will foul up far more fish than they can catch when using bait and switch. Artificial lures are the way to go if you do not have an expert, professional crew and want to catch billfish on light tackle. AND, you should be able to catch at least half the fish that bite your smaller lures.

For tag and release angling on sail fish, white marlin and striped marlin, use small lures and small hooks. There is no need to free spool the lures. Instead, hold the rod tip high over your head and drop the rod tip rapidly down toward the fish when you see it start to strike. This technique throws several feet of slack into the line and allows the fish to get the lure and hooks into its mouth. It is called "Rod Tipping".

I use lures even on light line. When I am trying to find a body of fish in tournaments, even with 12 lb. and 16 lb. line, I troll lures. The lures I use have heads with a diameter at the forward tip of the head of, at most, 9/16" to 3/4". Flat heads pull easier than slanted heads or cupped heads. Nothing makes more fuss or pulls harder for a given diameter than a cup-headed "chugger" lure. They are great lures but need to be used at slower speeds if used on light line.

Slant faced lures, "straight runners" or plungers are intermediate between chuggers and cylinders. Even the largest cone shaped lure heads pull surprisingly easy. The diameter of the tip of a cone shaped lure is almost zero and a light lure will tend to plane along the surface. "Green Machines" and Moldcraft "Hi Speed" (A terrible misnomer as it is awful over 7 or 8 knots.) are true cone shapes and pull lightly enough to use on 6 pound line!

Truncated cones like MoldCraft "Wide Range" and other similar lures, truly cylindrical lures like the MoldCraft "Hooker" or "Four Eyed Monster", as well as many excellent similarly shaped custom lures, are very stable even at very high speeds (up to 17 knots) if the length of the head is 3 times the diameter. Head diameter, lure weight and trolling speed determine how hard the lure pulls and what line classes can be used with that lure. With long 10" or 12" skirts and a truncated cylindrical head shape no more than 5/8" in diameter, I would happily fish at 8 knots for any billfish up to at least 100 pounds on 6 or 8 pound line. With a pair of 5/0 to 8/0 hooks on similar "needlefish" lures, the average angler should catch over half the billfish that bite on 12 pound test-much better than all, but the most expert anglers can achieve on dead natural bait.

The limiting factor on how big a lure you can pull is ultimately related to how hard the lure pulls at 8 knots. Light monofilament stretches up to 30% and light rods bend under tension, then spring back when the tension is released. A lure that surfaces and comes partly clear of the water, pulls less hard for a fraction of a second. In that time, the stretchy nylon contracts and the rod straightens out and the lure is catapulted toward the boat. This is unacceptable! It results in tangled hooks and leaders, causes high rpm spins, and on very light line, can cause a broken line because the lure is now being pulled sideways through the water. Some so-called experts hate lures because novices that use them commonly beat the pros in tournaments!

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

 


Guy Harvey on "The Atlantic Sailfish"

by Guy Harveyat

The sailfish is the most common of the ten billfish species, and are distributed world-wide in tropical waters. The average size of the Atlantic sailfish is 40-60 pounds and they are one of the smaller billfish species. In the Eastern Pacific they grow twice that size reaching 200 pounds. The outstanding characteristic of the species is the enormous dorsal fin which is much higher than the greatest depth of the body. This fin is used to make the sailfish look three times the size it really is and is particularly used when corralling bait schools. When working in tandem with other sailfish in what I describe as cooperative feeding, the sail is raised and used to keep the bait in a tight school which is then easily managed by predators. In addition, they change color frequently, with dark blue backs and bronze flanks cut by vivid stripes when excited. They are marvelous animals to paint, which is why diving with them is so important to capture the anatomy, color, movement and the thrill of the chase.

In the western Atlantic, sailfish spawn in spring and summer. The tiny fertilized eggs hatch and grow very rapidly, just as all oceanic fish species do. The sailfish will reach six pounds in six months, and may be thirty pounds in their first year. Tagging has shown sailfish will live as long as twelve years and make large seasonal migrations, though some will linger in good feeding areas for long periods. They eat a variety of oceanic species, such as sardines, anchovies, puffer fish, filefish, flying fish, small tunas and bonitos, jacks and ballyhoo. In turn, they have few predators, but the large sharks, such as the mako, tiger and bull sharks, have preyed upon sailfish, as do large blue marlin and some large toothed cetaceans, like orcas.

at

There is little directed commercial fishing for sailfish in the Caribbean, but there is a lot of commercial long line activity in the eastern Pacific. This is unfortunate, particularly in Costa Rica, where the recreational use of sailfish is much more valuable to the local economy as a living fish than as a protein source. Socio-economic studies in Central America have shown the sailfish to be a very valuable sustainable resource in the catch and release fishery. The use of circle hooks in this fishery ensures 99% survival, and so some countries, like Guatemala, have banned the landing of all sailfish. There is currently an effort in Central America to have a regional approach to the management of the species, particularly as the species migrates extensively along the coasts of the member countries.

My underwater encounters with sailfish and sardines were some of the most graphic and inspiring I have had in fifteen years of diving with billfish all around the world. Underwater photography of these marvelous fish has become more exciting and educational compared to their angling value and provides a unique experience in certain locations.

It is our collective responsibility to conserve all marine creatures and maintain the biodiversity of the planet.

Good diving and fishing.

- Guy Harvey

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:www.guyharveysportswear.com

 


Guy Harvey on "The Wahoo"

by Guy Harvey

guy1

Wahoo are highly migratory ocean game fish and visit the islands and seamounts that make up the Cayman Islands in the winter months. Although they are available all year round, their peak of abundance is from October to December and February to April. The Cayman Islands record wahoo of 146 lbs. was caught in June 2007 off East End, Grand Cayman. The only bigger wahoo caught in the Caribbean have come from the Bahamas, while the current all-tackle world record of 182 lbs. was caught recently in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

The wahoo is a cosmopolitan species found in all tropical and subtropical waters around the planet. Growing to 200 lbs. and over 6 feet long, the wahoo is built for speed; long and slim, a stiff upright tail and long pointed jaws equipped with sharp teeth. They have color typical of ocean game fish, with blues, purples and bronze, but are characterized by vivid "tiger" stripes running down the body, particularly when excited. They are one of the most beautiful of fish and are a favourite of mine to paint.

Wahoo will form aggregations as juveniles up to 15 lbs., but typically become solitary as adults. Sometimes far offshore, I have come across a floating log, holding a school of young wahoo, and will chum them with cut bait, then dive in to watch the juveniles light up their vivid stripes as they feed. As many prey species find sanctuary in the open ocean under flotsam, I portray scenes of wahoo or dolphin fish and marlin with floating objects in the background as it is a natural situation and educates the viewer about the natural history of the species.

guy2Wahoo have never been targeted as a commercial fishery resource, because though they have widespread distribution, nowhere are they abundant like other small mackerel species or some tuna species. They are a very fast growing species, up to 20 lbs. in the first year, and reproduce rapidly, like most oceanic fish species. Wahoo are currently fully exploited by recreational fisherman around the Caribbean and Central America. Some countries have daily bag limits, and in others they are conserved for recreational use only. I have released many wahoo under 10 lbs., and once I have caught a couple adults in a morning, I will then switch to another type of fishing.

In the Cayman Islands, anglers target the wahoo along the steep drop offs around the islands and on the 12-mile bank, 60-mile bank and Pickle bank. Individual crews have their preferred rigs, but trolling ballyhoo bait with a skirt on a wire line is a popular rig. Wahoo will bite any artificial lure that is moving fast, so many crews here troll at 11 to 14 knots and make use of the wahoo's predatory nature and tremendous speed to generate the action. One word of caution; a wahoo's teeth are so sharp, they can cause bad injuries even when dead. I have a terrible scar on my left foot caused when a dead wahoo's open mouth came in contact with my bare foot in a rolling sea. Since then I have always worn boating shoes out on the water.

There are many good island recipes for wahoo, but this is a fish that I like to eat fresh, which is why one will do me for a while. The flesh is white and dense, and can become dry if overcooked, so I like to include a good buttery sauce when steaming or grilling fresh wahoo steaks.

Fish and dive responsibly, good luck, and tight lines.

- Guy Harvey

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:www.guyharveysportswear.com


 

Cayman New Buoys Win Tropic Star Tournament

by Guy Harvey

The 10th annual Torneo Tropic Star got off to a good start. Thirty-one boats registered, 12 from the world famous Tropic Star Lodge fleet, and another private 19 boats from Panama City, ran 150 miles to Pinas Bay, on the southeast corner of the Darien Province, Panama. Visiting teams of three anglers charter the TSL boats, and rotate to a different boat each day. Three teams from the Cayman Islands, four from Canada, two from Jamaica and four from the USA take all the TSL boats.

guy blog 2

Cayman Islands teams were; Cayman Hard Buoys with Troy Burke, Tony Berkman and Andrew McCartney; Cayman New Buoys with Alistair Walters, Sebastien Guilbard and Marcus Montana. The third team was Los Bamofos with Andi Marcher, Guy Harvey and Neil Burnie.

A practice day of fishing before the tournament begins gets everyone familiarized with the fishing techniques, crews, and tackle. A few minutes after the start of fishing Alistair Walters hooked, fought and released a 300lb black marlin at the famous Pinas Reef. Other teams went offshore while some stayed inside to fish for roosterfish, jacks and cubera snappers.

On Day 1, the Cayman Hard Buoys got off to a flying start with two blue marlin catches by Tony and Troy - a black marlin for Tony and a sailfish for Andrew - resulting in a PACIFIC GRAND SLAM; three different species of billfish in a single day.

Unfortunately, the first blue caught by Tony passed the 90 minute maximum fighting time as was DQed, but they jumped into the lead with two marlin and a sailfish anyway. Cayman New Buoys also did well holding second place with Marcus releasing a 300lb blue and Sebastien a 450lb blue on their first day. Los Bamofos scored a single sailfish, released by angler Andi Marcher.

Day 2 was a slow day for the Cayman teams except for Los Bamofos, when honorary Cayman angler Neil Burnie, from Bermuda, caught a fine 475lb blue marlin. The other two Cayman teams did not add to their score. Meanwhile, one of the Canadian teams pulled ahead with a total of three marlin releases, plus a magnificent 267lb yellowfin tuna. In addition, the Jamaican anglers were closing in with 14 year old Nicholas Chen bagging two blues and a sailfish.

Day 3 got off to a slow start but once the captains located the schools of bonitos, live bait was now available. Earlier in the day we had caught some 25lb yellowfin tunas and began pulling them live, hoping for a big black or blue marlin to take them. Live baiting is the preferred method of fishing for black and for blue marlin on the Pacific coast of Panama. The private boats from Panama City switched over to live bait fishing from pulling artificial lures once they saw how effective this method was at getting the bite.

guy blog 1

The first blue marlin, caught by Los Bamofos, spent four excruciating minutes in the spread checking out all three baits, zipping back and forth and driving the crew crazy before it settled on the short bait. Angler Andi Marcher took 40 minutes to subdue this active 500lb blue marlin, and Los Bamofos was now catching up with a tally of two blue marlin and a sailfish.

Cayman New Buoys also scored early in the day with a 300lb black marlin by Marcus. Meanwhile, Cayman Hard Buoys lost a marlin, then had a double marlin bite hooking a 350lb black marlin which was caught by Tony Berkman, keeping them in third place. Right then, Los Bamofos lost two consecutive bites which would have put them in the running.

With fishing closing at 3p.m., Cayman New Buoys hooked and released their fourth marlin, a 450lb blue by Sebastien and now took over the lead from the Canadian team. An hour from the end of fishing, Los Bamofos scored with a magnificent blue marlin, to put them into fourth place.

After three days of competition, Cayman New Buoys ran off with Team Most Points (1200), after their first visit to Tropic Star. Canada came second (1000) on Time. Cayman Hard Buoys placed third (1000) on Time, having finished fourth last year. Team Los Bamofos placed fourth (1000) on Time. In total, the three Cayman teams contributed eleven marlin and two sailfish to the tournament total catch of 35 marlin and 9 sailfish.

Congratulations to the Cayman New Buoys! This event is a qualifying event for the Bonnier-IGFA World Tournament of Champions held in May 2011 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This angling event is sanctioned by the Cayman Islands Angling Club and the Cayman Islands International Fishing tournament held in April each year is also a qualifying event. The winners go through to participate in this prestigious big game angling event. Good luck!

-Guy Harvey

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:www.guyharveysportswear.com


Guy Harvey on The Snook

by Guy Harvey

Guy1

One of my most memorable diving expeditions was not in the ocean but in the famous Homosassa River on the west coast of Florida diving amongst manatees. In the cool fresh water of the river were a host of marine species, such as mullet, gray snapper, jack crevalle, redfish, sheepshead, tarpon and some of the biggest snook I had ever seen.

Typically, snook hang out on the edge of mangroves and in river mouths where the water is usually murky, the fish are shy and, as a diver, you seldom get a good shot of snook in its natural surroundings.

Many were over forty pounds, and would turn to face me before spinning around and seeking refuge deeper in the basin. They have a unique look, a signature appearance, with a longer lower jaw than upper jaw, a distinctive black line on their lateral line and bright yellow fins and tail. I was in snook heaven.

What was so interesting about this location in the Homosassa was the number of species that were tolerant of the lowered salinity and were thriving. While there was apparently little food for these predators, I came to the conclusion they were shedding all their marine parasites in the fresh water, before returning to the estuary or the ocean.

In Florida, the snook is a prized game fish with an awesome reputation for giving a good fight and are great table fare. They are caught using a variety of live baits, lures and plugs, and the best time to fish for them is an hour before high tide and three hours of the falling tide. They tend to congregate near shorelines with some structure such as piers, docks, pilings, rock formations and reefs. In Florida, they accumulate near the warm water outflows of power plants, particularly in winter.

guy2

No other inshore species has devout a following as the snook. Their numbers and accessibility have made them very popular wherever they are found. There are several species, the largest being the common snook. They range as far north as the Carolinas, throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean and as far south as Brazil. In the eastern Pacific, several species are found along the coast from Mexico to Ecuador.

Because of their popularity in the USA, there are size limits, this being more than 28inches but less than 32 inches long (so the juvenile fish and the larger brood stock are protected at all times). There are seasonal limitations and catch limitations, plus this species cannot be sold

The common snook feeds primarily on fishes and some crustaceans. Their spawning season extends from June to November, after first maturity at three years old. They may live up to seven years and to a size of forty five pounds, though bigger individuals are reported from the Pacific. They have many predators, such as barracudas, large jacks, goliath groupers and a variety of inshore sharks such as lemons, bull sharks and black tip sharks.

When next you are in snook country, wet a line and have a tremendous angling experience while observing all local laws and catch regulations. It is our collective responsibility to conserve the marine environment and maintain the biodiversity of the planet.

Safe diving and tight lines.

-Guy Harvey

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:www.guyharveysportswear.com

 


Combining Business with Sportfishing Community & Marine Resource Support - Part II

by Bill Shedd guy

On Wednesday morning I attended several presentations at the ASA meeting including one by Nick Wiley the executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That afternoon I drove up to Nova Southeastern University, home of the Guy Harvey Research Institute, to attend the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) board meeting. A major part of that meeting was to review the various Gulf of Mexico research proposals. Guy Harvey teamed up with AFTCO and our partners to raise $500,000 from the sale of two unique Guy Harvey T-shirt designs. The charge of the GHOF board is to insure that this money is spent in a way that will provide the most benefit to marine life in the Gulf. On Wednesday night I attended the annual GHOF fund raising dinner, where among other things the new Guy Harvey car license plate was announced. Our plan is that sales of this new plate will generate some $1 million to support the work of GHOF.

On Thursday morning after giving my government affairs report to the ASA board of directors, I drove up the coast, visiting a few AFTCO & Guy Harvey customers along the way. I attended the opening of the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute (HSWRI) east coast research station in Melbourne Beach, which now provides an east coast facility to add to the longtime HSWRI marine research center in San Diego, CA. At Melbourne Beach we will be developing a hatchery operation for red fish, snook, seatrout and red snapper along with providing a base for marine strandingoperations, turtle research along with various other Indian River Lagoon and east cost ocean issues. SeaWorld, as it has from its very beginning, continues to quietly, unselfishly and without fanfare or control, support the good work of the HSWRI.

guyOn Friday after breakfast with Don Kent president of HSWRI, I attended the HSWRI board meeting with Florida board members at SeaWorld in Orlando with a video conference connection to fellow board members in San Diego. As Chairman of the Board of HSWRI, I usually run the board meetings from San Diego, so it was interesting to be at the other end of the line. For 47 years the HSWRI has been doing important work to benefit the ocean realm. That is just the way Dad intended it to be.

Friday evening I drove back down from Orlando to Ft. Lauderdale to attend the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show on Saturday. The Guy Harvey team had set up a booth with a beautiful display of all Guy Harvey products including the Guy Harvey shirts and other Guy Harvey clothing we produce. Much can be learned spending a day in the jammed packed Guy Harvey show booth talking to reps, customers and consumers about the Guy Harvey sportswear brand. Taking care of some business at the show was a great way to end the week.

- Bill

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:www.guyharveysportswear.com

 


Combining Business with Sportfishing Community & Marine Resource Support

by Bill Shedd

Part I of II

The American Fishing Tackle Company (AFTCO) is a unique business in that we spend an unusual amount of time and money on the sportfishing community and marine resource issues. This non business involvement is part of the Shedd family legacy and AFTCO culture. It started with my father Milt Shedd, who prior to co-founding Sea World in 1964, founded what is now known as the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute (HSWRI). The mission of HSWRI remains to this day as it was in 1963, "To return to the sea some measure of the benefits derived from it." Dad thought that even before they opened, Sea World should be looking for ways to give back to the marine community by forming a research institute that would allow universities, marine researchers, and other collaborators to do research work with the ocean life at Sea World. He felt that little was known about the ocean and the creatures that live there, so in order to insure a healthy future existence of the ocean and its inhabitants, Man needed a greater understanding of that universe.

shedd

Dad applied that same logic to AFTCO when he and Mom purchased the business in 1973. He encouraged all of us here to be involved with activities that would help add value to the ocean world. That encouragement remains an inspiration 8 years after his passing in 2002. As president of AFTCO, I spend over 500 hours a year providing support/leadership to various fishing communities and resource efforts. Last week's activities' in Florida offered a good example of how we, here at AFTCO, continue to balance business and resource efforts. I thought you might like to hear about what went on.

On Monday I flew from our home office in Irvine California to Florida to attend the American Sportfising Association (ASA) Summit, the sportfishing industries annual meeting. My main involvement was as Chairman of the ASA Government Affairs Committee. Our committee met on Tuesday from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM and discussed a range of issues including Marine Protected Areas, the National Ocean Policy, Magnuson-Stevens Act Challenges, the Fishery Conservation Transition Act, South Atlantic/Gulf Councils Update, Gulf Oil Spill, Cape Hatteras National Seashore/ORV Management Plan, Lead Issues including several efforts to ban the use of lead, Lake Champlain Issues, Water4Fish/CA Delta Water Challenges, Reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, and the KeepAmericaFishing Angler Advocacy Initiative. During most of that day, we were joined by Eric Schwaab, the current assistant administrator for fisheries at NOAA.

Tuesday night I attended the International Gamefish Association (IGFA) Hall of Fame Induction ceremony where Yoshiro Hattori (Japan), Steve Huff, George Matthews, John Wilson (England) and Forrest Wood were inducted. As Chairman of the IGFA Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, I am interested in the entire process from working with fellow committee members to insure the best candidates are selected, all the way up to the induction ceremony. As the co-chair of the IGFA Fisheries and Conservation committee, I also discussed with IGFA president Rob Kramer and Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser, the new IGFA release only record by length world record category we are about to announce to the fishing world. (Activities from last Wednesday to Saturday will be covered in our next blog.)

- Bill

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:www.guyharveysportswear.com

 


Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge

by admin

The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge is shown here as seen on the NBC Nightly News with Kerry Sanders. This effort supported by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation encourages the release of all sharks and involves a satellite tagging component to help determine shark movements.

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

 


 

Guy Harvey Touches Up Cayman Airport Mural

by Guy Harvey

2

Guy touching up his 32 foot long mural at Owen Roberts International Airport on his home island of Grand Cayman

The Cayman Island Airport Authority are sprucing up Owen Roberts International Airport, so asked me to come in and touch up the paintings that have been there for 6 years for the enjoyment of all arriving residents and visitors.

All the paintings were cleaned and restored and hung in the original 8 panel sequence, depicting the magnificent coral reef animals for which theCayman Islands are famous. Going from shallow water with quintessential stingrays on the left through theback reef with tarpon, barracuda, parrotfish and hogfish, 3out to the deep fore reef with turtles, sharks and spotted eagle rays on the right in one beautiful sequence.

It is the only original 8 panel painting I have done. In the immigration hall of ORIA a 32 foot X 12 foot painting of a Cayman fisherman catching a giant blue marlin in a catboat is the second largest airport mural I have done. The biggest is the 90 foot X 35 foot mural in Ft. Lauderdale Airport, Terminal One in Florida.

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

 

 


 

Sep 17, 2010

Guy Harvey Gulf Fund Raising Effort Featured on CNN

by admin

We were honored to be featured on CNN recently for our Save Our Gulf fund raising effort. Guy Harvey and AFTCO Bluewater are dedicated to keeping our oceans and waterways clean and safe for marine wildlife. CNN picked up on the fact that our cause marketing efforts are authentic and part of the DNA of who we are. The following copy is text from CNN's blog.

Every year, companies spend billions of dollars on good causes. But in this challenging economy, corporate giving is taking on a new level of importance.

"Cause Marketing" is a term coined in the 1980s. But today, it's becoming a popular method for companies to get through tough times, and build their brands.

We are accustomed to big companies like Pepsi and Nike getting behind global causes, but smaller businesses can get in on the action as well.

I profiled a small company, Guy Harvey Inc., that reports record revenues in 2008/2009, at the height of the recession, and management credits Cause Marketing with the success.

A pioneer in this field, Harvey says the cause started as an authentic desire to save the world's oceans, and became a business strategy much later on.

"Sometimes you need to have money to do the good," says Harvey, "and I feel good to be in this position now, to have the influence to really make a difference."

Carol Cone, an expert on marketing and the author of "Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding" says companies spent more than $9 billion in 2001 on charitable causes. The challenge, she says, his ensuring they meet their business objectives at the same time.

According to Cone, recent surveys show six out of 10 consumers say they are more loyal to a company that backs a cause. Social media is an important factor in the success of cause marketing. Cone says, "By word of mouth and social media, consumers can find out what a company truly stands for. Consumers want to be in control, they want to feel empowered to be good, so this really resonates."

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com


SHARKS - Do We Really Need Them?

by Mahmood Shivji

For the longest time after the 1975 blockbuster "JAWS" gave us a spine-tingling ride, there was an often used saying that "the only good shark is a dead shark". This man- against-beast thriller and its many progeny shark horror flicks still pervade the public's psyche, anointing all sharks as human-eaters and keeping many beach-goers out of the ocean.

The public and media's morbid fascination with sharks as killing "machines" continues today. There is a steady stream of media coverage when fishers catch and drag back a large shark for photo-ops. In some minds, catching and killing a large shark is almost heroic and fashionable, and a testament to man's superiority in the "battle" against the beast.

Meanwhile, the enormous toll taken on shark numbers worldwide due to indiscriminate fisheries continues unabated. All this shark killing causes some to wring their hands in anguish about longer-term ecological impacts. Others say "what's the big deal if sharks are killed?"

Who's right? Should we care if many of the oceans large sharks are exterminated? Is there really enough of an impact on the marine environment to worry about?

New studies show that sharks also influence the behavior of their prey. Photo credit: B. Watts

It seems intuitively reasonable that sharks, as top-level predators, play an important role in maintaining stability in the ocean's food chain. Most people objectively or "in their gut" understand that life on earth is a series of complex interactions, with connections through food webs. Simply put, species at the top of the food chain eat species in the middle of the food chain which in turn eat species on the bottom of the food chain. And therefore, changes in the abundance of one community segment will affect the other segments. In fact, recent studies have indeed documented that overfishing of large sharks (the apex predators) has resulted in numerical increases in populations of their normal prey such as smaller sharks and rays (known as mid-level predators or mesopredators) in a phenomenon called "predator release". In turn, the mesopredators are overeating their own smaller prey such as bay scallops and bony fishes even lower on the food chain. Scientists call such effects that ripple down the food chain "trophic cascades".

Still, will it really matter all that much if we overfish sharks? Won't some other large predatory species, such as billfish and barracuda, take over for sharks at the top of the food chain and keep the food webs functioning normally?

If only the interconnections of life were that simple??.

New studies in Shark Bay, Australia by Dr. Mike Heithaus and his team at Florida International University are showing that in addition to playing important roles in the food web by direct predation (or lethal) effects, including keeping prey population sizes in check, sharks also play a large role in maintaining the normal functioning of marine ecosystems by- get this- influencing the behavior of their prey!

How does this prey behavior to ecosystem function connection work?

Let's take the seagrass ecosystem as an example. Recreational fishers and patrons of the marine outdoors know that seagrass beds are critically important nursery areas for juveniles and sometimes even adults of all types of fishes and invertebrates. The health of seagrass ecosystems is woven into an intricate balance with larger animals such as sea-cows, sea turtles and birds that obtain their sustenance in seagrass beds, either by directly grazing on the seagrass or eating smaller creatures living on the seagrass or in the surrounding sediment. These large animals (mesopredators) are in turn, prey for tiger sharks.

Let's connect the ecosystem dots: Dr. Heithaus and colleagues have documented that sea-cows, sea turtles and birds avoid hanging out in seagrass beds when tiger sharks are seasonally present in Shark Bay, and jump right back in to devour their favorite foods after the sharks leave in winter. Makes survival sense doesn't it? What this shows is that the presence of tiger sharks causes the mesopredators to change their habitat-use behavior to avoid the risk of being eaten. And this risk-avoidance behavior keeps the seagrass beds and their inhabitants from being over-consumed.

The take home message is that sharks keep the marine ecosystem in balance not just by directly eating their prey - the role that gets the most attention, but also indirectly by altering the behavior of their prey. The importance of this indirect ecosystem role of sharks is just beginning to be recognized.

We at the Guy Harvey Research Institute, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and AFTCO hope that you will keep in mind the delicate balance required to keep our oceans healthy. Please enjoy our marine environment with respect for all of its remarkable life forms. If you catch a shark, enjoy its magnificence, keep its important ecosystem role in mind - and let it swim away.

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com


Aug 30, 2010

Guy Harvey Receives the Vasco Nuñez de Balboa Medal

by Guy Harvey

I received a call just a couple of days out from leaving for Panama. Dr. Marcos Ostrander, board member of the Tropic Star Group of Companies, said I was to bring a suit and tie. Something was up. I was going fishing at Tropic Star this week and I had never taken formal clothes. Dr. Ostrander later explained what it was about. This was important stuff for me and my family, so I made arrangements for my daughter Jessica to travel to Panama City on Tuesday night so I would have a family member there for the ceremony on Wednesday.

Panama

Fishing had been good at Tropic Star, black marlin and blue marlin were biting that morning. It was surreal to have been in combat with a 500 pound black marlin for a couple of hours off the remote, pristine Darien coastline and then be in the big city a few hours later. I left Pinas Bay early afternoon and flew into the City with Eleanor Armstrong, the TSL administrator. Jessica arrived from Atlanta that evening and we were collected next morning by Dr. Ostrander and his wife Irene and were taken to the ATLAPA Convention Center. Here, a number of personnel from the Ministry of Tourism and Protocol had gathered, plus personalities from several tourism companies and the media. I did several interviews before formal proceedings began.

The Minister of Tourism, His Excellency the Honorable Salomon Shamah, and his lovely wife Rachel, came in with their entourage and we were introduced. My Spanish is unfortunately very poor, so the Minister addressed me in English, extending the President's regards and congratulations.

The formal ceremony took place with a spokesperson from the Ministry reading out the proclamation and the reasons for the award. An interpreter translated for the audience, then the Minister gave his address. I was impressed as he never referred to his notes!

Nunez

I was very humbled by all of what he said and I had to take a deep breath as I turned to receive the Vasco Nuñez de Balboa Grand Cross around my neck, the silver star on my left chest and then was handed the decree, signed by the President and Vice President. I was asked to make a few comments, and in doing so, I thanked the people and Government of Panama for their kindness and for this great honor. I thanked the owners and staff of Tropic Star Lodge, whose unique location had inspired so many paintings, stories, friendships and through whom I had so many wonderful fishing and diving experiences, so much so that I could write a book with authority, called "Panama Paradise".

It is not a coincidence that the pioneer Ray Smith from Texas, who built Tropic Star in the early 1960s, was awarded the same honor in 1964.

We toasted the President and the country of Panama, and then everyone came up to shake my hand. Lots of reporters came forward for posed photos with the Minister. It was a huge moment in my life to be honored in this manner by another country. I would like to share with you a quote from local newspaper El Visitante 13 Aug. 2010:

Guy Harvey Honored

"Sport fishing enthusiast and environmental conservationist receives highest recognition from Panamanian Government."

"When someone gives so much to Panama, without being asked to do so, it is the very least the Panamanian government can do to recognize them with our highest honor," Said Panama Tourism Authority Administrator Salomon Shamah earlier this week of Guy Harvey who received the Vasco Nuñez de Balboa medal for his stewardship of Panama's marine resources.

Guy Harvey is more than a regular at Tropic Star Lodge in Darien, arguably the most famous fishing hotel in the world. He is an avid conservationist whose labor of love has led him to become one of the biggest advocates for Panama's marine life. Through his Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University and his Ocean Foundation Guy has embarked on a scientific mission to better understand fishing resources in Panama. Most notably he has assisted with tagging and satellite tracking of many species in conjunction with Tropic Star Lodge.

The ceremony honoring Harvey was carried out at the ATLAPA Convention Center. Harvey presented his limited edition 345-page book entitled "Panama Paradise, A tribute to Tropic Star Lodge" to ATP Administrator Shamah.

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com


Aug 25, 2010

Guy Harvey, AFTCO & Partners Raise $500,000 For Gulf Marine Life

by Bill Shedd

Success came much faster than expected. Today we announced that in one month we have already sold out of the 50,000 special Guy Harvey "Save Our Gulf" T-shirts. While AFTCO Bluewater will produce no more, some of these special shirts will still be available at retail outlets for the next few weeks. Ten dollars of each shirt sold is donated to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF), so we have now successfully raised $500,000 that will be used to support needed marine life research in the Gulf of Mexico.

predators

Even though oil is no longer flowing into the Gulf from the BP spill, and it is reported that over 70% of the spilled oil is now gone mainly due to evaporation and bacteria consuming it, there is no doubt that marine life in the Gulf has been impacted. Better understanding of how it has been impacted and what to do about it is what the $500,000 will be used for. The money raised from the sales of the special Guy Harvey T-shirts will be set aside in a separate fund within the GHOF and will be given out to research projects that Guy Harvey and the Board believe will bring the most future benefit to marine life of the Gulf of Mexico.

Many questions will need to be answered, such as, "what impact has the spill had on planktonic animals, fish eggs, larvae and juvenile fish?", "has there been a significant impact on an important sportfish species such as bluefin tuna, red snapper, redfish, seatrout, or flounder?" and "how will that impact future stocks?"

Our thanks goes out to all who added to the $10 contribution which included Guy Harvey, AFTCO Bluewater, our reps, our suppliers and our retail partners. We also thank the consumers who made this possible with their strong support of these specific shirts and the Guy Harvey brand. Our original goal was to sell 10,000 T-shirts and raise $100,000. For us to raise $500,000 in a month is quite a unique and significant accomplishment.

Meaningful support of the marine resource is part of the culture and DNA of both Guy Harvey and AFTCO Bluewater. This "Save Our Gulf" T-shirt effort was both fun and rewarding for all of us. As time passes and we fund various research efforts, we will keep you posted on what is learned.

Bill

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, pleaser visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

 


Aug 19, 2010

Grabbing Tigers By the Tail - A Return to Bermuda -Part II

by Guy Harvey

Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Expedition: Bermuda - Part II

The 2010 expedition to Challenger Bank began on July 24, just a couple of weeks earlier in the year than last year's trip. Much of the crew from the 2009 expedition were on hand again: Neil and Choy - the "local boys" from Bermuda; Mahmood and Brad, our resident scientists; my children, Jessica and Alex; and Capt. James Robinson, whose boat Wound Up once again served the dual role of catch boat and support vessel.

bermuda 1

For this year's trip, the GHRI provided thirteen SPOT (Smart Position or Temperature Transmitting) tags and Neil purchased four three-year SPOTs with assistance from Bermudian sponsors, some of whom rode along with Capt. James on the Wound Up. Neil and Choy were doing a great job in Bermuda in getting local businesses involved in the tagging project and the production of a documentary that was created to educate the public about the success of their work.

The expedition's plan called for Neil and Choy to take us to Challenger Bank to tag as many tiger sharks as possible over the course of six days. The week started fairly slow, with just one shark caught on each of the first three days. However, things heated up in the second half of the week as we caught and tagged 9 more sharks over the three remaining days.

Chumming was the key to catching the sharks. Luckily, we had ample supplies of fish heads, and we added to the chum mix by catching bonitos, ocean robins (local name for an abundant mackerel scad), blackfins, wahoos and barracudas while we were on the Bank. While the sharks were definitely attracted to all of the fish we served up, they seemed to have a preference for one in particular - fresh barracuda, which proved to be irresistible to the tigers.

We fished for the tigers primarily from the Wound Up. When a shark was hooked, Capt. James would transfer it to the Bones and then return to the mooring to continue fishing. Meanwhile, Neil and crew would safely secure the caught shark, apply a tag to the its dorsal fin, and then release the shark unharmed. Our crew was very experienced at tagging sharks and had gained a lot of knowledge during last year's expedition, so the entire process - from the initial hook up to the final step of releasing the shark - was well planned and executed, which resulted in all of the sharks being released without harm.

While James was fishing with 130s we put out a quarter inch rope line cable leader and 20/0 circle hook, which was baited with barracuda and suspended from a large buoy. We caught four sharks using this method. One of these was pulled in by Alex, and at 8 feet long, it was the smallest shark we had caught so far.

Brad and Neil decided this shark was small enough to pull into the boat for tagging, so the crew hauled the shark on board, then covered its eyes with a wet towel and ran two deck hoses through its gills for ventilation. With the smaller shark secured in the boat, Neil was able to deploy a 3-year SPOT tag on this young male in just a few minutes.

bermuda 2

Interestingly, while on board, this small tiger shark regurgitated several squid beaks, and the horn of the foot from a benthic gastropod (like a conch). This indicates opportunistic bottom feeding and mid-water feeding on pelagic squid (one of the big 12 footers regurgitated the remains of a seabird and lots of feathers).

Unfortunately, we didn't catch any of the sharks that we tagged last year, nor did we catch any tigers that had been tagged previously by Mahmood and Brad in the U.S.Virgin Islands over the past two years. A somewhat disappointing result, but it suggests that the tiger shark population around Bermuda is comparatively healthy. Of course, we do not know what the population numbers were before the commercial fishing industry exploited this and other species over the last three decades, so it's difficult to determine just how stable the population has been over time.

Impact of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Expedition: Bermuda

Earlier in July, Brad presented our most up-to-date results at the annual conference of the American Elasmobranch Society, and the results of our comprehensive study amazed the scientific community. The tags applied in 2009 have lasted and stayed attached much longer than expected, and the regular reporting by the sharks (over a year now) is shedding new light on their behavior and migration in the Atlantic. Perhaps the biggest finding so far is that tigers are not the coastal dwellers that they were believed to be. Instead, they appear to make extensive oceanic journeys, and have an oceanic existence for much of the year.

It appears that the majestic tiger shark, which can grow to eighteen feet long, seems just as content in six feet of water chasing stingrays on the Bahamian sand flats as it is lurking near an oceanic bank 2000 miles offshore, hoping to detect and zero in on a dead floating sea bird or loggerhead turtle. This knowledge has serious management implications: since the sharks have been shown to make extensive migrations - passing through the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones of several countries in a given year - no country can consider these animals "their resource".

The GHRI left several SPOT tags in Bermuda with Neil and Choy in the hope that some female tiger sharks would show up later in the year. Oddly, of all the animals tagged so far, only one has been female. This leads us to another question: "Why are there so many males at Challenger Bank at this time of year?" A question perhaps best answered by making another expedition.

Acknowledgements:

I wish to thank Rehanna Palumbo and the staff at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel in Hamilton, Bermuda for her assistance with accommodation. This is a beautifully appointed 5-star hotel in a wonderful setting on the Hamilton waterfront close to great shopping and restaurants. Well worth the visit.

Thanks to Neil and Choy for getting us together in the collaborative research effort, and for the chance to swim with these magnificent animals. Thanks to James Robinson and his family for his commitment to the project.

It is our collective responsibility to conserve the marine environment and maintain the biodiversity of the planet. Fish responsibly, dive safely.

Cheers?.Guy Harvey PhD.

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com