My name is Kaycee and I am an Oceanography graduate student at Rutgers University. This blog’s primary objective will be to tell the story of catching, tagging, and tracking the fish we are studying at the Rutgers Univ. Marine Field Station (RUMFS). Currently there are two projects this blog will focus on. One study is on winter flounder seasonal migration off of New Jersey, which I will be writing about. The other is a study on sex change in black sea bass which will be covered by Mikaela Provost (another graduate student at Rutgers) and Chris Filosa (a technician at RUMFS).
Winter flounder are right-eyed flatfish, not to be confused with their left-eyed relatives the summer flounder. Winter flounder get their name because they lay their eggs in the winter. The reason Dr. Thomas Grothues (Motz), Dr. Ken Able, and I are studying winter flounder is to examine their seasonal spawning migration. To reproduce these fish move inshore into the estuaries, however we are interested in finding out if there is a resident population that lives out on the New Jersey coastal shelf like the resident population at Georges Bank. Winter flounder are harvested by recreational and commercial fishermen, but the limit on the number of winter flounder you can catch has been reduced due to their population declining. Read more about winter flounder here.
You may be wondering how we are planning on following these flounder. Sadly we do not have an underwater team of trained dolphins to handle the task. In order to track their migration, or lack of a migration if they stay out on the shelf, we are using three different kinds of tags to monitor movement.
Archival tags log data such as temperature, salinity, and pressure. While these tags gather large amounts of data, the disadvantage is that we need to catch the fish again to download the data off of the tag. For this reason we are offering a $200 reward for each archival tag recovered!! If you find one of these tags please let us know! They have a battery life of about four years recording data.
Acoustic tags have a shorter life span of about 3-4 months based on battery. They differ from the archival tags because we can find them again using hydrophones as long as we are in range of the tag. We use the hydrophones as a listening device to try to hear the signals that the tags emit. Here is a fun link about how these tags can be used.
3) American Littoral Society tags
These tags do not record data but they are still useful in monitoring where fish are going. You can see how far a fish has traveled and how large a fish has grown in a given time. The American Littoral Society fish tagging program is one of “the largest volunteer, salt-water fish tagging program in the U.S.” If you would like to help out our project you can purchase 10 tags for $5 and become a fish tagger yourself!
As our adventures ensue I’ll update the blog, please follow along as we follow the flounder.