Ryan Gary, Student Technican
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Posted on July 22, 2011 | Permalink
Summer Surveys For This Student
Location: Coastal Bays and Susquehanna Flats
Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I was out with the Coastal Bays group doing a summer trawl survey down in Ocean City. We met in Annapolis early in the morning and on the way down to the boat house we picked everyone up. At the boat house there was evidence of other animals from there recent trawls, they had tons of animals including northern puffers, mummichog, summer flounder, and starfish all in a holding tank. We launched soon after having reached the boat house and headed to our first spot north of the route 50 bridge. We took multiple pieces of data before we started the trawl, like latitude and longitude of our position for the beginning of the trawl, water depth, visibility, temperature, salinity, and a couple others. We then threw the trawl net over the back and then began hauling it behind us. When we stopped I took depth and GPS position while waiting for the crew to hoist the net aboard the boat. They dumped all that the net contained into a large bucket which then was dumped onto our green sorting table. The majority of the catch was crabs, weakfish, and bay anchovy although there was a mix of other more interesting fish too. We measured every fish in millimeters and stated crabs gender and whether or not they were mature females. One of the most interesting trawls I did with the coastal bays group was our second to last one. As we pulled up the net and dumped it onto the table I could already see the wide variety of fish it had. We saw a bunch northern sea robin, striped sea robin, toad fish, a bunch of flounder, and even some squid. The most interesting thing we saw though was a mantis shrimp, they are also known as thumb splitters because of a claw at the front of their body that can strike at speeds of 23 meters per second or the speed of the .22 caliber bullet. To say the least we handled it very carefully.
On Thursday this week I went out with Biologist Eric Durell on the Juvenile Index Survey to the Susquehanna Flats. Once we reached the boat ramp we moved all our gear to the boat and launched for the first site. We sampled using a long seine net, pulling it across the beaches. The majority of what we found in the first pull was white perch, there was a good amount of rockfish mixed in, and the rest were different species of shiner and smaller baitfish. Our second pass was much more interesting, we pulled the seine through a much deeper part of the flats and as we were bringing it to shore the seine started to explode with movement. When we finally got it to shore we saw two carp flopping around, as well as an older rockfish. After we pull in the seines we measure each fish until we had measured thirty of that species, then we count the rest of that species without measuring them. The point of this survey is to compare the amount of stripers and other game fish caught to other years where they used the exact same methods. This way they can predict if the spawn was greater, less, or around equal compared to previous years.
Overall the surveys this week were a lot of fun and I learned a bunch of new species like mantis shrimp, herring, silvery minnows and much more. Both groups will be sampling more in August and I hope I have another chance to go out with them and learn more.