Thursday, July 24, 2014

Assignment 1, Part 1: Recreational Fishing

Recreational Fishing: Boston Harbor, Friday 7/18/14

Last Friday we set out aboard Captain Charlie's Charter Fishing boat to see what we could catch in Boston Harbor. We fished from around 9:30am to 11:30am at low tide not far from Deer Island and caught five different kinds of fish using live sea worms as bait. We caught Striped Bass, Black Sea Bass, Flounder, and Silver Hake.

Sea Worms
The worms were an average of about 5 inches in length. They had a row of red cilia on each side to help propel them through the water. Large black pinchers protruded from their mouths when provoked.
Striped Bass
Morone saxatilis, commonly referred to as stripers, get their name from the 7 or 8 continuous horizontal dark stripes that run from gill to tail. They can be found along the East Coast, from Canada to Florida as well as areas in the Gulf of Mexico. Striper, both farmed and wild, are abundant in the fish market and restaurant industry, however most farmed striped bass are actually hybrids, a cross between striped bass and white bass. Striped bass has long been one of the most important commercial and recreational fisheries in the industry, but due to over fishing and environmental issues the fishery faced collapse until fishing regulations were implemented and brought the species to a sustainable state where it is today. Striped bass are anadromous, meaning they live in salt water yet travel into freshwater to spawn. Juveniles live in estuaries, the area where fresh water meets the salt water, for up to four years before migrating to the Atlantic. Striped bass can live up to 30 years old and grow to be over 50 pounds, feeding on other fish making the species piscivorous. While, young stripers have many predators the adults have few other than seals, sharks and the occasional science class.  

Black Sea Bass,
Centropristis striata, are a popular commercial and recreational species along the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Florida. There are two separate stocks of black sea bass in the Atlantic, divided at approximately Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Black Sea Bass not to migrate up and down the coast but rather migrate in respect to the proximity to the shore as the water temperatures change. They prefer to remain close to structures such as rocks, reefs, and wrecks. In contrast with the Striped Bass, Black Sea Bass usually only grow to about 24 inches. Black Sea Bass are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that most are born as female but as they mature some will switch to be male, which scientists hypothesize is done as a result of the scarcity (or not done in the case of a multitude) of males in the population. When the species spawn the males turn bright blue and grow a hump of the same color on their heads.

As we all know from the Little Mermaid, flounder are dependable, reliable, sometimes timid, friends. Who can speak. And sing. The Pseudopleuronectes americanus can be found along the eastern coast from Maine to North Carolina, residing in estuaries and bays in the summer and feeding offshore in the winter. As one can deduce from the physical characteristics of the species they tend to lay on the sea floor and often bury everything but they eyes, which are situated on one side of the body. The placement of their eyes is a gradual process, when they are first born they have an eye on each side of their head but as they reach maturity and adapt to life on the ocean floor their left eye migrates to the right side of their body. The position of their eyes allows them to almost burry themselves in the sediments while still keeping two eyes on the predators above which include cod, dogfish, and monkfish. Flounder can easily be mistaken as sole, however sole is located in the Pacific and flounder is located in the Atlantic.

Silver Hake 
What the hake! Merluccius bilinearis are a nocturnal species that spend the night and dusk feeding near the surface while spending their days at the sandy or muddy bottoms, along most of the east coast. As the name suggests, the species are silver in color while darker on their back and lighter on their stomach. This difference in coloring helps disguise the species from predators from below, by camouflaging them into the lighter waters illuminated by the sun, and from above by camouflaging them into the darker sea floor below.

NOAA Fishwatch. NOAA, 5 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

Drohan, Amy, John P. Manderson, and Dave G. Packer. "Black Sea Bass, Centropristis striata, Life History and Habitat Characteristics." NOAA Technical Memorandum (2007): 1-78. Print.

National Audubon Society (May 2001). National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Fishes. Knopf, Rev Sub edition (May 21, 2002).

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