Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus)

St. John Sea Creatures: Tarpon and Fry
A tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) swims through a school of fry on St. John’s south shore

“Tarpons are large fish of the genus Megalops; one species is native to the Atlantic, and the other to the Indo-Pacific Oceans. They are the only members of the family Megalopidae…

“… Tarpons grow to about four to eight feet long and weigh 60–280 lbs. They have dorsal and anal soft rays and have bluish or greenish backs. Tarpons possess distinctive lateral lines and have shiny, silvery scales that cover most of their bodies, excluding the head. They have large eyes with adipose eyelids and broad mouths with prominent lower jaws that jut out farther than the rest of the face.

“… Megalops is considered one of the great saltwater game fishes. They are prized not only because of their great size, but also because of the fight they put up and their spectacular leaping ability. They are bony fish and their meat is not desirable, so most are released after they are caught. Numerous tournaments around the year are focused on catching tarpon… read more from Wikipedia

Harvest Moon Tonight
The Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, will rise over St. John at 6:24 AST tonight

St. John News & Happenings

Undercurrents: Researchers Plumb Depths to Improve Fisheries
By Bernetia Akin — September 16, 2013

… David Olsen doesn’t know what happened to more than 4,000 yellowtail snappers fisherman tagged and released in the waters around St. Thomas and St. John as part of a study begun two years ago. Not one has shown up again – dead or alive.

And all the educated guesses one might make don’t make sense either. The species might be highly migratory, for instance, but past studies don’t suggest that. The tagging might weaken the fish and make them more vulnerable, but the few tagged yellowtail that were sent to Coral World Marine Park had no such problems. Nor have other subjects.

In a 30-plus year career, Olsen, who holds a doctorate in fishery management, hasn’t seen another study that ended in more mystery than the yellowtail research. Funded with a federal grant, the study was conducted by the St. Thomas Fishermen’s Association. Olsen is the association’s chief scientist.…

… In an effort largely paralleling the yellowtail study, fishermen tagged some 4,000 spiny lobsters caught and released in St. Thomas waters. But they had much better luck with the lobsters.

About 350 of them were re-caught, Olsen said. By comparing their size, weight and location between the two captures, researchers were able to learn some new things about their habits, and to document information that was only suspected before.

The peak reproduction period is from March through July, he said. That’s when fishermen found the most lobsters bearing eggs. Further, they caught the most juveniles in September, October and November. It takes about a year and a half for a spiny lobster to grow to adulthood, Olsen said.

The study suggests that lobsters don’t travel much. Although “we’ve had recaptures up to 15 miles” away from the first capture, he said most of the animals were found within a mile of their first encounter with STFA.

Olsen theorizes that the lobsters are drawn not so much by the bait the traps contain – typically old cow skins – as by the shelter they provide. Lobsters don’t like to be exposed, and the traps, set between reefs, offer attractive cover.

The study also led STFA to make a population estimate of 410,000 spiny lobsters in St. Thomas/St. John waters. Olsen said fisherman sell about 50,000 to 60,000 of them each year.

The annual quota for lobsters, set by the Fisheries Council, is not by number but by weight. Currently, the quota for St. Thomas is a total of 105,000 pounds. Olsen believes the study supports raising that quota by up to 15,000 pounds.

He sees things differently for St. Croix. Preliminary findings indicated that the average size of lobsters caught in St. Croix waters has dropped by a centimeter, suggesting that the volume of lobster fishing in that area “is putting a lot of pressure on the resource.”

Fish traps represent the most popular type of fishing in St. Thomas waters, accounting for 450,000 pounds of fish a year. In contrast, hard lines bring in about 110,000 pounds, and seine nets, about 100,000 pounds….

Coastweeks clean-up program begins Saturday
Daily News Staff)
Published: September 16, 2013

The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority is partnering with the University of the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service Division and the Friends of the National Park by being a part of the 28th Annual Ocean Conservancy Coastweeks International Coastal Clean Up. Coastweeks clean-up activities begin Saturday and run thruough Oct. 31….

…Drunk Bay on St. John, 9 a.m. Volunteers: Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park, UVI and Friends of the Community.is Virgin Islands Day at Yankee Stadium

To plan or participate in a clean-up, contact Kayla Tennant on St. Thomas at 998-5787 or ktennent@alumni.flager.edu; Marcia Taylor on St. Croix at 692-4046 or mtaylor@uvi.edu; or Karen Jarvis on St. John at 779-4940 or kjarvis@friendsvinp.org. … read more

Virgin Islands Day at Yankee Stadium
By Source Staff — September 17, 2013

In an effort to support increased air service and engage thousands of potential travelers in the territory’s top market, New York, the Tourism Department launched a marketing partnership with the New York Yankees to boost travel to the territory this fall and winter. The three-week promotion began Aug. 30 and will lead up to Sunday’s special USVI Day at Yankee Stadium….




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