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Heading to Florida tomorrow and then to the Bahamas for a week of fishing. Working on the Dolphin Tagging Project that we are supporting as well as a short movie to tell about the project and educate anglers about tagging dolphin. Dr. Don Hammond who us running the study will be aboard for a few days.

Last year we tagged I think over 60 dolphin on the Makara. This year we are going for a lot more.

Anyone else going to be down there? We are heading to Chub Cay and then to Highborne Cay and will be there for about 10 days. We are on our expedition boat, the Makara (a 74' Viking). I will have email and net access down there. If you are around give a yell, we are always monitoring channel 16.

I will post reports, pictures and video (if I can) every day possible.

Brandon

A little about the Dolphin Tagging project we are supporting:
Dolphin Tagging

About The Program

When you combine the dolphinfish's aggressive feeding behavior, brilliant coloration, its abundance and top quality as a food-fish, it is easy to understand why it is considered one of the world's foremost gamefish. In its annual surveys of subscribers, SaltWater Sportsman magazine consistently found dolphin to be the most popular offshore gamefish along the United States' Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Prior to the mid-1990s, dolphin were almost wholly harvested by recreational anglers and were the primary creel component sustaining an important offshore sportsfishery. When commercial fishermen began targeting dolphin, major concerns arose among fishermen along the entire Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Anglers voiced fears that without a management plan governing harvest, dolphin stocks could be overfished to the point of major decline.

In1998, the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC) was directed to work with the Gulf and Caribbean Councils to develop a joint management plan for dolphin and wahoo. However, because of differences in the regional fisheries, little progress was made on a common plan. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Commerce approved development of a separate management plan by the SAFMC for the Atlantic coast which resulted in the implementation of a management plan in 2004 for the Atlantic fisheries.

In developing the management plan for dolphin, managers found that there were many important unknown facets of the dolphin's life history. For example, little is known about the movements and migrations of the fish along the US's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The geographic range of the fish found in US waters is also very important in developing an effective management plan. Mangers must know if the stocks fished in US waters are shared with other countries. Shared stocks occur when fish migrate into another nation's waters, such as the Bahamas, or simply by ranging beyond the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) controlled by the U.S.
About The Program

When you combine the dolphinfish's aggressive feeding behavior, brilliant coloration, its abundance and top quality as a food-fish, it is easy to understand why it is considered one of the world's foremost gamefish. In its annual surveys of subscribers, SaltWater Sportsman magazine consistently found dolphin to be the most popular offshore gamefish along the United States' Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Prior to the mid-1990s, dolphin were almost wholly harvested by recreational anglers and were the primary creel component sustaining an important offshore sportsfishery. When commercial fishermen began targeting dolphin, major concerns arose among fishermen along the entire Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Anglers voiced fears that without a management plan governing harvest, dolphin stocks could be overfished to the point of major decline.

A study conducted in 1991 to track dolphin movements along the US east coast resulted in only 60 fish tagged and four tag recoveries producing little information. Two attempts to use genetic material analysis to determine if multiple stocks existed in the Western North Atlantic yielded contradicting results as to whether differences did exist between the fish found in other areas of the Northern Atlantic and those found off the U.S. east coast.

Entering the new millennium, science still had little concrete information documenting the movements, occurrence and dispersal patterns for dolphinfish present off the US east coast. This, coupled with strong,
South Carolina, 6.5 miles/day. Surprisingly, many recoveries of dolphin tagged off South Carolina showed very limited movements even after freedom periods as long as two months. This short-term residency was not exhibited in any other area off the east coast. Over 80% of the recoveries of fish tagged off Florida occurred off Florida with only 12% of the Florida fish recoveries reported from waters north of Cape Hatteras, NC. However, almost 38% of the recoveries of dolphin tagged off Georgia and South Carolina came from north of Cape Hatteras.

The SCDNR study revealed some amazing national and international movements. Several fish
displayed northward movements of over 1,000 miles along the US east coast. A recovery off Georgia established the first east coast link with dolphin found off the south eastern Bahamas. Three other recoveries of fish tagged off the US east coast provided the first links with dolphin found in the eastern Atlantic south of the Azores Islands, off Antigua in the West Indies and off Belize/Mexico in the western Caribbean. These fish had traveled distances of 1,200 to 2,500 miles at minimum.

CSS Dolphin Tagging Study Continues Research

The amazing information which the SCDNR study generated inspired anglers to request that the research be continued. Because these fishermen were willing to donate the funding needed to start up the study, Cooperative Science Services, LLC, a private consulting company, was established to continue the dolphin research project. CSS was founded by Don Hammond, who served as principle investigator for the SCDNR study prior to his retirement from the SCDNR, because no management agency would continue the project. No funding was available from federal research programs such as MARFIN or CRP, because the fish was not a priority and/or the study was not centered in the Gulf of Mexico. This leaves the study to rely on private donations to finance its full operation.

Tax Deductible Donations

A non-profit organization, the Hilton Head Reef Foundation, has volunteered to provide financial support for the CSS Dolphin Tagging Research Study. This registered 501 ( c ) 3 organization based in Hilton Head, SC will receive donations for the dolphin study making all such contributions tax-deductible. This organization also provides the opportunity for private foundations required by law to donate only to eleemosynary programs to contribute financial support. Donations should be sent to the address below with the checks made out to CSS Dolphin Study/ HH Reef Foundation.

The major financial support for this study has come from private recreational fishermen and sports fishing organizations. Fishing clubs like the Central Florida Offshore Anglers have contributed as much as $2,000 while individual anglers have donated as much $3,000. Tagging participants have literally pass-the-hat at fishing club meetings to help raise money while families of avid dolphin anglers have asked that on the death of that angler donations be made in his name to the Dolphin Study. This truly shows the deep, personal commitment anglers have to this research.

2006 - 2007 Objectives

The goals of the proposed research are to establish the temporal and spatial occurrence and movement patterns of the common dolphinfish along the east coast of the United States and the northern Gulf of Mexico. To accomplish these goals, the project proposes to meet the following objectives:

1. Utilize as many experienced offshore fishermen who have participated in previous tagging studies of marine fish as possible to mark and release 1,000 dolphinfish off the east and Gulf coasts of the US in each of two years, 2006 and 2007.

2. Develop a simplified system for fishermen to report tagged fish; the system will provide the necessary geographic and biological data required to meet project goals. Primary taggers will be encouraged to report data electronically.

3. Generate a temporal and spatial data base on the occurrence of dolphinfish along the east and Gulf coasts of the US using release site data. This will begin to identify the geographic area utilized by the species.

4. Quantify the portion of dolphinfish caught by fishermen affiliated with Sargassum using tagged fish records. Develop a temporal and spatial data base on the occurrence of Sargassum.

5. Develop tag recovery reporting system that will capture the standard geographic and biological parameters for each tagged fish which is recovered. Quantify the recovery rate by state and by fishery user group based on tag recapture reports.

6. Generate a data base of the temporal and spatial movements of dolphinfish based on recaptures showing movements along the eastern United States, as well as into other areas of the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic Ocean.

7. Develop an extensive public relations campaign to keep the media and public updated on the progress of the study. This will serve to keep the research project in front of the public. This will include:

a. Establish a website for the research project that will provide information to recreational and commercial fishermen about the goals and objectives of the tagging study, an online method to report tagged fish recoveries, the life history of dolphin, the identification of common versus pompano dolphin, and show dolphinfish movements documented by this and other studies.

b. Produce up to 9 electronic newsletters during the year that report on the progress and findings of the study. A mailing list of over 800 persons has been compiled in recent years while preliminary tagging work was conducted at SC DNR.

c. Secure a national saltwater fishing magazine to publish 4 (four) newsletters recognizing sponsors and reporting the study's progress.

d. Present finding of the study in formalized talks to fishery mangers, fishing organizations and other events/meetings with fisheries managers or interested anglers.

e. Transfer project data in a timely fashion to the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC), the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council (GOMFMC), the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council (CFMC), the NOAA Fisheries Miami, FL lab and Beaufort, NC lab.

Anglers interested in tagging fish for the program or who recapture a tagged dolphin should contact Don Hammond, marine fisheries biologist with Cooperative Science Services, LLC at the address below. Anglers recapturing a tagged dolphin should visit the Reporting Tags page of this website to provide complete information on the recovery.


Donald L. Hammond
Marine Fisheries Biologist
Cooperative Science Services, LLC
961 Anchor Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412-4902
(843) 795-7524
[email protected]
 
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