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Tropic news. Volume 6. Issue 5

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Title:
Tropic news. Volume 6. Issue 5
Series Title:
Tropic news
Creator:
United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Publisher:
United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
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English

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Caribbean ( LCSH )
Newspapers -- Caribbean ( LCSH )
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serial ( sobekcm )
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North America -- United States Virgin Islands
Caribbean

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University of Florida
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Full Text



T ROPI NEWS


DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL
RESOURCES
February 1994


DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE


Volume 6 Number 5


BLUE MARLIN UPDATE
Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans), a primary sport
fish in the US Virgin Islands, has a sportfishery tradition
dating from the mid-1950's. Blue marlin sport fishing
tournaments and individual sportfishermen in the Virgin
Islands are some of the world's most active participants in
voluntary tagging programs supported by the Interna-
tional Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
(ICCAT), The Billfish Foundation (TBF), and NOAA/Na-
tional Marine Fisheries Service, Cooperative Gaiie Fish
Tagging Program (CGFTP). In 1991, a total of 1,792 blue
marlin were tagged and released in U.S. waters, with most
tag-releases taking place off the U.S. Virgin Islands (428).
Many of these are actually caught in waters under the
jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands by U.S. registered
boats.
The purpose of tagging programs is to collect data on
the number of billfish hooked, boated, tagged, released,
and recaptured, during tournaments and recreational
fishing, and to obtain information on length, weight, and
sex of individual blue marlin. The goals are to improve the
Atlantic-wide biostatistical fishery data for blue marlin,
contribute to international Atlantic billfish tagging pro-
grams, and assist in age and growth research.
Unfortunately, out of the hundreds of blue marlin
tagged and released each year very few recaptures are
reported. Many scientists believe tag shedding and im-
proper tagging are responsible for low tag returns. Some
experts agree that the metal tag head implanted in the
muscle is biologically incompatible and can cause a sub-
stantial degree of tag loss. Prompted by this information
The Billfish Foundation developed a new tag head made
ofhydroscopic nylon which actually bonds with the flesh or
tissue of the fish. This should decrease the number of tags
shed. In addition to the tag head, the streamer has been
improved to avoid marine growth which sometimes de-
stroys chances of collecting data.
Improper tagging can result in not only lost tags, but
can actually be harmful to the fish. Sport fishermen are
tagging under less than ideal conditions, waters are rarely
flat calm, the fish can be extremely active, and most
tagging occurs during tournaments when competition is
high.
Dr. Eric Prince, Chief of the Migratory Fishery Biology
Division, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service has
issued a statement to sportfishermen regarding improper
tagging. Dr. Prince stated that many sport fishermen are
tagging fish far too close to the head, and many are
accidently tagged in the eyes, gills and opercle which will
result in the fish's death. Dr. Prince asked taggers to take
care when tagging, and move away from the head back


_ II r ~~~I I


towards the pectoral fin. Tag above the lateral line in the
muscle just under the dorsal fin (See illustration).
Dr. Prince does not encourage using double tag sticks
for double tagging. He feels it is better when double
tagging to tag singularly, one tag on either side of the
dorsal fin. This increases the visibility of the tagby 100%.
The recovery of tagged billfish throughout the world
has enhanced the understanding of long-term geographi-
cal ranges of individual fish, and their minimum rates of
travel. Tag-release-recapture programs provide data for
estimating migration patterns, distributions, stock struc-
tures, and exploitation rates for certain oceanic game
fishes.









FORK LENGTH

SHARKS IN DANGER
For. 400 million years, sharks have been playing the
important role of top predator in the ocean. Their role in
maintaining population levels for many prey species offish
makes them vital to the health and balance of the world's
oceans. Terrestrial ecologists have frequently observed
the benefits of predation for prey populations and the
problems that occur when predators are removed from an
ecosystem.
Unfortunately, shark populations have seriously de-
clined during the past few decades due to unregulated
overharvest and mankind's fear-induced lack of care for
them. Most people would prefer to see our oceans free of all
sharks, not realizing that this could have a significant, and
probably catastrophic, effect upon marine ecosystems.
Although sharks are one of the longest-lived groups of
organisms on the planet, their future in the next few
decades depends on a change in human attitudes and
perceptions. By recognizing shark's value to our marine
systems and understanding that they really do not pose
any threat to us, shark populations will hopefully restore
themselves to naturally balanced levels.

QUOTE
"We cannot think of a time that is ocean less, Or of
an ocean not littered with wastage, Or of a future that is
not liable, like the past, to have no destination."
rn0 c* :-A






MIGRATORY SHOREBIRDS
People are not the only ones to winter in the V.I. and
summer in North America. Birds and whales also
qualify as snowbirds. The neotropical migratory birds
generally migrate along three flywayss": the Atlantic
Flyway along the east coast of the U.S., the Mississippi
Flyway along the Mississippi River valley, and the
Pacific Flyway along the west coast of the U.S.
Many of these migratory birds belong to the group
know as shorebirds. These small birds have long legs
and bills (usually). The name comes from the fact that
these birds frequent beaches and shorelines. However,
they can also be found in wetlands, along guts, and in
wet, grassy areas. A few prefer open fields and golf
courses.
Shorebirds often migrate long distances. Some of the
birds found in the V.I. have come from Alaska or the
Canadian Arctic. During the summer, these areas are
rich with insects, larvae, and aquatic invertebrates that
these birds feed on. As summer ends up north, their food
resources disappear. Shorter days is usually the cue
most migratory birds use to know when to migrate
south; longer days is used for heading back north.
Below is a list of shorebirds found here in the V.I.
Accidentals (A) are species that only rarely appear in
the V.I. Transients (T) are here only during the fall and/
or spring migration (Aug. Sept., Mar. April). Mi-
grants (M) are here all winter. Residents (R) are "bahn
heah". The coastal salt ponds are good places to see
migratory shorebirds; the fall and spring migration are
the best times to see large numbers of species and
individuals. This is also the best time to test your
identification skills as birds are in winter or breeding
plumage or molting from one to the other.
Hudsonian Godwit (A) Piping Plover (A)
Lesser Golden Plover (A) Snowy Plover (A)
Wilson's Phalarope (A) Least Sandpiper (M)
Black-bellied Plover (M) Greater Yellowlegs (M)
Lesser Yellowlegs (M) Pectoral Sandpiper (M)
Trees were saved by printing on recycleedpaper
Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper


GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
OF THE UNITED STATES
***>,* *
Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife
101 Estate Nazareth
St. Thomas, USVI 00802
(809)775-6762 (ST.T.). (809)772-1955 (ST.X.)


Semipalmated Sandpiper (M) Sanderling (M)
Short-billed Dowitcher (M) Common Snipe (M)
Ruddy Turnstone (M) Solitary Sandpiper (M)
Semipalmated Plover (M) Spotted sandpiper (M)
Western Sandpiper (M) Stilt Sandpiper (M)
Baird's Sandpiper (T) Whimbrel (M)
White-rumped Sandpiper (T) Red Knot (T)
Black-necked Stilt (R) Killdeer (R)
Wilson's Plover (R) Willet (R)





ST. CROIX STA "
For eleven years Willy Ventura has been working for
the Division's Bureau of Fisheries. As an Environmental
Opectilisl I, Willy has been Iespoisible for Intervlewing
both commercial and recreational fishermen to deter-
mine catch composition and obtain biostatistical data
(length, weight, etc.) for the fish caught. Willy has also
developed his computer skills and assists with any other
project that requires his assistance.
Prior to working with us, Willy worked for 2 years at
the V.I. Housing Authority, served on the V.I. Urban
Renewal Board for 2 years, and worked with the Ed-
ward J. Gerrits Development Corp. for 5 years. His
hobbies include recreational fishing, music, travel, and
spending time with his family (not necessarily in that
order!).
Willy has been a hard-working, devoted employee of
the Division. He has put in many long hours in the field
and in the office. We thank Willy for all his work and
hope that he will stay with us until retirement.


f-1& This newsletter was funded by the US
Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and
) Wildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean
P Fishery Management Council and the
10 Government of the VI.


BULK RATE
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, V.I.
PERMIT NO. 35


Address Correction Requested


II I I




Full Text

PAGE 1

, DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL RESOURCES DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE February 1994 Volume 6 Number 5 towards the pectoral fin.'Tagabove the lateral line in the muscle just under the dorsal fin (See illustration). Dr. Prince does not encourage using double tag sticks for double tagging. He feels it is better when double tagging to tag singularly, one tag on either side of the dorsal fin. This increases the visibility of the tag by 100%. "The recovery of tagged billfish throughout the world has enhanced the understanding of long-term geographical ranges of individual fish, and their minimum rates of travel. Tag-release-recapture programs provide data for estimating migration patterns, distributions, stock structures, and exploitation rates for certain oceanic f!ame fishes. ;. ~ ~ ~ -FORKLENGTH SHARKS IN DANGER For.400 million years, sharks have been playing the important role of top predator in the ocean. Their role in maintaining population levels for many prey species offish makes them vital to the health and balance of the world's oceans. Terrestrial ecologists have frequently observed the benefits of predation for prey populations and the problems that occur when predators are removed from an ecosystem. Unfortunately, shark populations have seriously declined during the past few decades due to unregulated overharvest and mankind's fear-induced lack of care for them. Most people would prefer to see our oceans free of all sharks, not realizing that this could have a significant, and probably catastrophic, effect upon marine ecosystems. Although sharks are' one of the longest-lived groups of organisms on the planet, their future in the next few decades depends on a change in human attitudes and perceptions. By recognizing shark's value to our marine systems and understanding that they really do not pose any threat to us, shark populations will hopefully restore themselves to naturally balanced levels. BLUE MARLIN UPDATE Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans), a primary sport fish in the US Virgin Islands, has a sportfishery tradition dating from the mid-1950's. Blue marlin sport fishing tournaments and individual sportfishermen in the Virgin Islands are some of the world's most active participants in voluntary tagging programs supported by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlanti~ Tunas (lCCAT), The Billfish Foundation (TBF), and NOAAlNational Marine FiGhcri~ Service, Cooperative Galii~ Fish Tagging Program (CGFTP). In 1991, a total of 1,792 blue marlin were tagged and released in U.S. waters, with most tag-releases taking place off the U.S. Virgin Islands (428). Many of these are actually caught in .waters under the jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands by U.S. registered boats. I The purpose of tagging programs is to collect data on the number of billfish hooked, boated, tagged, released, and .recaptured, during tournaments and recreational fishing, and to obtain information on length, weight, and sex of individual blue marlin. The goals are to improve the Atlantic-wide biostatistical fishery data for blue marlin, contribute to international Atlantic billfish tagging programs, and assist in age and growth research. Unfortunately, out of the hundreds of blue marlin tagged and released each year very few recaptures are reported. Many scientists believe tag shedding and improper tagging are responsible for low tag returns. Some experts agree that the metal tag head implanted in the muscle is biologically incompatible and can cause a sub-. stantial degree of tag loss. Prompted by this information The Bjllfish Foundation developed a new tag head made of hydro scopic nylon which actually bonds with the flesh or tissue of the fish. This should decrease the number of tags shed. In addition to the tag head, the streamer has been improved to avoid marine growth which sometimes destroys chances of collecting data. Improper tagging can result in not only lost tags, but can actually be harmful to the fish. Sport fishermen are tagging under less than ideal conditions, waters are rarely flat calm, the fish can be extremely active, and most tagging OCCu!S during tournaments when competition is high. . Dr. Eric Prince, Chief of the Migratory Fishery Biology Division, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service has issued a statement to sportfishermen regarding improper tagging. Dr. Prince stated that many sport fishermen are tagging fish far too close to the head, and many are accidently tagged in the eyes, gills and opercle which will result in the fish's death. Dr. Prince asked taggers to take care when tagging, and move away from the head back QUOTE 'We cannot think ora time that is ocean less, Or of an ocean not littered with wastage, Or of a future that is not liable, like the past, to have no destination," 'T'~ y;l11~_L

PAGE 2

Semipalmated Sandpiper (M) Sanderling (M) Short-billed Dowitcher (M) Common Snipe (M) Ruddy Turnstone (M) Solitary Sandpiper (M) Semipalmated Plover(M) Spotted sandpiper (M) Western Sandpiper (M) Stilt Sandpiper (M) Baird's Sandpiper (T) Whimbrel (M) White-rumped Sandpiper (T) Red Knot (T) Black-necked Stilt (R) j Killdeer (R) Wilson's Plover (R) Willet (R) -.-,-' ..; :-~ .~ -=::~,,--'_. = -=-\.-~~, ---~ ST. CROIX , For eleven years Willy Ventura has been working for the Division's Bureau of Fisheries. As an Environmental Ope(idli~L I, \Villy lid!; U~~ll r~lOp(jllslultj for InLet'vIewIng both commercial and recreational fishermen to determine catch composition and obtain biostatistical data (length, weight, etc.) for the fish caught. Willy has also developed his computer skills and assists with any other project that requires his assistance. Prior to working with us, Willy worked for 2 years at the V.I. Housing Authority, served on the V.I. Urban Renewal Board for 2 years, and worked with the Edward J. ~rrits Development Corp. for 5 years. His hobbies include recreational fishing, music, travel, and spending time with his family (not necessarily in that order!). Willy has been a hard-working, devoted employee of the Division. He has put in many long hours in the field and in the office. We thank Willy for all his work and hope that he will stay with us until retirement. This newsletter was funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean Fishery Management Council and the G<>vernment of the VI~ BULK RATE u.s. POSTAGE PAID CHARLOTTE AMALIE, V.I. PERMIT NO. 35 MIGRATORY SHOREBIRDS People are not the only ones to winter in the V.I. ai1d summer in North America. Birds and whales also qualify as snowbirds. The neotropical migratory birds generally migrate along three "flyways": the Atlantic Flyway along the east coast of the U.S., the Mississippi Flyway along the Mississippi River valley, and the Pacific Flyway along the west coast of the U.S. Many of these migratory birds belong to the group know as shorebirds. These small birds have long legs and bills (usually). The name comes from the fact that these birds frequent beaches and shorelines. However, they can also be found in wetlands, along guts, and in wet, grassy areas. A few prefer open fields and golf courses. Shorebirds often migrate long distances. Some of the birds found in the V.I. have come fromAJaska or the Cufiudian Arctic. During the Summer, these ar~a5 are rich with insects, larvae, and aquatic invertebrates that these birds feed on. As summer ends up north, their food resources disappear. Shorter days is usually the cue most migratory birds use to know when to migrate south; longer days is used for heading back north. Below is a list of shorebirds found here in the V.I. Accidentals (A) are species that only rarely appear in the V.I. Transients (T) are here only during the fall and! or spring migration (Aug. Sept., Mar. April); Migrants (M) are here all winter. Residents (R) are "bahn heah ". The coastal salt ponds are good places to see migratory shorebirds; the fall and spring migration are the best times to see large numbers of species and individuals. This is also the best t!me to test your identification skills as birds are in winter or breeding plumage or molting from one to the other. Hudsonian Gi>dwit (A) Piping Plover (A) Lesser Golden Plover (A) Snowy Plover (A) Wilson's Phalarope (A) Least Sandpiper (M) Black-bellied Plover (M) Greater Yellow legs (M) Lesser Yellow legs (M) Pectoral Sandpiper (M) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper GOVERNMENT OF mE VIRGIN ISLANDS OF mE UNITED STATES ****** . Department of Planning and Natural Resources Division of Fish and WiJdlife 101 Estate Nazaret1t St. Thomas. USVI 00802 (809)775-6762 (ST.T.). (809)772-1955 CST.X.) Address Correction Requested