Below is a summary of the 2012 Dolphin Research Program. Both Guy Harvey and AFTCO are proud to be official sponsors of the program. It is privately run by Don Hammond of Cooperative Science Services, LLC., and is very important for a better understanding of the dolphin population in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. If you would like more information on the program please contact Don Hammond at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to their website at www.dolphintagging.com
Dolphin Tagging in 2012
The 2012 study of dolphin movements and migrations was assisted by 102 different sports fishing vessels fishing the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Atlantic Coast northward to New Jersey, the Bahamas and Caribbean Sea. The crews of these vessels tagged a total of 1,147 dolphin. While 193 anglers were reported participating in the tagging, the number is significantly higher because most of the participating charter boats do not report the anglers.
A record number of 173 new anglers/boats were signed up to tag dolphin in 2012. Tagging reports showed that of the 102 participating boats, 51 tagged their first dolphin in 2012. Making up half of the fleet tagging dolphin in 2012, these boats accounted for 211 fish or 18 percent of the dolphin tagged and released in 2012.
Similar to fishing where ten percent of the anglers catch 90 percent of the fish, a small portion of the participating boats, 18 percent, tagged the majority of the fish. Eighteen boats reported tagging ten or more dolphin in 2012. The crews of these boats tagged 78 percent, 896 fish, of all fish tagged and released during the year.
Most of these top contributing boats have been tagging for several years. Only four of these top boats entered the program for the first time in 2012. Typically, these boat crews have built an increased interest in the program from recaptures of their fish. They have learned that with a little diligence and effort, they can find out where their fish go. Other motivating factors are a desire to contribute to science and the future well-being of the dolphin stock, a fish they love to catch.
Tagging activity varied widely among the different zones. Six areas exceeded the average number of fish tagged there since the study began. These areas were south Florida, southern North Carolina below Hatteras, northern Mid-Atlantic Bight, Gulf of Mexico, tropical western North Atlantic, and Caribbean Sea. These areas had from 4 to 56 more fish tagged than their annual average, but their gains did not make up for the losses in other areas. Tagging in the Bahamas exhibited one of the worst declines, falling from its average 131 fish per year to only 13 fish tagged in 2012. Southern South Carolina also showed a similar decline with only 40 fish tagged compared to its annual average of 234 fish tagged. Tagging in the remaining five regions also fell below their annual average. Even though the number of fish tagged in 2012 was not as high as we would like to see, the number still exceeds the annual goal of 1,000 fish.
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