GOM-FL Keys Recovery / New MAB Recoveries / Dolphin Management Update
GOM-FL Keys Recovery / New MAB Recoveries / Dolphin Management Update
Made Possible by a Grant from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation

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Gulf of Mexico - Florida Keys Recovery!

GOM-FL Recovery
Black text = 2021 recovery. Grey text = 2012 recovery
Each year, recoveries of dolphinfish tags follow a somewhat predictable pattern given the number of tag deployments per location and the fishing effort in those areas.  A primary example are dolphin tagged in the Florida Keys and recovered off South Florida.  This year, 41% of tag recoveries fall into this category, and over the history of our program, 15% of all recoveries pertain to short-term movements between these areas.  This data is useful for a host of scientific and fishery management uses (click here for articles on that) but beyond the scope of this article, each year, rare tag recoveries occur whose details unlock a multitude of new comparisons, analyses, thoughts, and theories about the movements of this epic gamefish.  With an annual average of only
Against the Grain client catch on 9.12.2021 that included the fish tagged by Whoo Dat. Pic: C. Rogers
32 dolphin tagged in the Gulf of
Mexico (GOM) over the past two decades, recoveries generated from the GOM are statistically low (now 3 of 561 fish) but the revered Whoo Dat fishing team beat the odds this year.  Recently, Captain Charlie Rogers of Against the Grain fishing charters based out of Key Largo, Florida, reported Whoo Dat's tag number for a fish they tagged 95 miles south of Grand Isle, Louisiana, on July 20th, 2021.  Coincidentally, a surface drifter (4201703) was deployed six days after and only 30 miles south of where Whoo Dat tagged the 24" 
Surface drifter track July 26th, 2021, to August, 22nd, 2021
dolphin, which provides a potential route this fish may have taken to swim to the Florida Keys (and possibly beyond if it had not been recovered).  A swift surface drifter movement from the Loop Current to the North Atlantic in just 28 days raises the question of whether dolphin swim through the system at the same pace.  We do not have an
Captain Bob Felinski poses with  Tessa Clague after she caught her first dolphin in the GOM off Texas this past summer. Pic. T. Felinski
example of that type of movement, but our fastest single day movement is 120 miles, fastest movement between south Florida and North Carolina is 7 days, and fastest movement from the Florida Keys to the Mid-Atlantic Bight in 10 days suggest that it is possible.  What this recovery does show is that a 24" fish tagged south of Grand Isle, Louisiana, grew 6" in 54 days when it was recovered off the Upper Keys.  This supports our position that management for dolphin along the U.S. East Coast should both include dolphin that occur in the U.S. GOM, which are connected on very short time-scales, and establish an increase in fish
reproduction and biomass by extending the SAFMC's 20" minimum size to the GOM, so that dolphin either remain within the GOM and grow to the size of Tessa's first dolphin (pictured above) or toward the East Coast for anglers like Against the Grain's clients to catch like they did in early September.  And, with three new recovieres in the 
Black text = recent recoveries Grey text = last month's recoveries
MAB since our August newsletter, these examples provide further evidence of how small fish tagged off the Keys can grow to larger sizes before being caught in northern areas along the eastern seaboard.  Captains Mark LaRocca, Erik Dahl, and angler David  
Dolphin recoveries since our August newsletter.
Pereira are the latest to recapture tagged dolphin in the MAB.  Captain LaRocca's fish was tagged by Captain Kevin McDermott 18 days before it was recovered.  The 20" fish was tagged at a lobster pot 25 miles northwest of the mouth of Hudson Canyon and recaptured at another lobster pot after growing 3" in an area known as the 100 square in Hudson Canyon, 42 miles southeast from where it was tagged.  Captain Dahl's fish was caught with his family only 9 miles east of Barnegat Inlet, NJ, 81 days after Captain Don Gates and the Killin' Time II fishing team tagged the fish.  After 81 days at liberty, the fish grew from 17" to 32".  Lastly, Captain Tim Heiser and his wife Michelle tagged and released a 15" fish off Ft. Lauderdale on May 1st, 2021, that angler David Pereira recaptured as a 28" fish aboard Captain Tom Randall's charter vessel Longer Days 20 miles out of Cape Hatteras, NC, on September 8th.  Average daily growth for all fish reported in this article equates to .13"/day (.91"/week; 3.64"/month) and in three of the four examples show small young-of-the-year fish (<20" FL) growing 3" to 15" in the same calendar fishing season within the Loop-Gulf Stream current system.  Click here to read more about this year's recoveries on our regional movements page.  
Dolphinfish Management Update
Call to Action
Recently, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) that leads the most extensive dolphinfish management and conservation plan in the western central Atlantic Ocean (WCA), has lowered their priority relative to dolphinfish and removed the species as an agenda topic at their upcoming December meeting, a move that could stymie progress made toward revising the U.S. Atlantic dolphinfish fishery management plan and eliminate necessary policies to be set in place to ensure better management and conservation for dolphinfish in the WCA.  While online public comments to the SAFMC are currently closed with regard to dolphinfish management, you can still write a letter to the Executive Director of SAFMC.  View our recent letter to SAFMC by clicking here and get further informed so you can take action to protect your dolphinfish fishery.  
Buy Tees! Support Mahi Tagging. 
With over 30,000 fish tagged since 2002, our tagging program has become a leader in public engagement in compiling scientific data on the species.  Shop in our store to get a fresh supply of threads or tags for fishing while supporting our tagging program that works to compile scientific data on mahi.  Click here to shop and support us.
Fall Fundraising Campaign Begins!
We would like to thank the 173 individuals and fishing industry entities and partners for their support of our work in 2021.  As we enter the last fiscal quarter of 2021, our 501(c)(3), the Beyond Our Shores Foundation (BOSF), created to support and expand the DRP, is beginning our work to raise funds for our 2022 effort.  Below are ways you can help support our work in 2022:
  • Shop in our online store
  • Buy a kit and give it as a Holiday present
  • Make a tax-deductible donation to support program operations
  • Make a tax-deductible donation to our DRP Investment Fund. Please contact us for details.   
  • Select Beyond Our Shores, Inc., as your preferred charitable organization to receive contributions from Amazon Smile  when you shop on Amazon.  
Click here to support our work and thank you!    
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Past Newsletters

DRP August Newsletter
DRP July Newsletter
DRP June Newsletter

2021 Tag Stats

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