Blog #12: Seining for fish near shore

This morning we woke up and Captain John informed us that instead of diving we would be seining. This requires a lot of teamwork and skill and took about 20 minutes of debriefing before we launched the small boat and traveled to the beach. We had four people designated as net pullers (being of short stature I did not make the cut), then we had one snorkeler on the backside of the net to make sure it didn't get caught on rocks (me). The rest of the group lined up on either side and splashed the water like a two-year old throwing a temper tantrum in order to scare the fish into the middle.

Expedition members use a seine net in May, 2008.

Once the 100 foot net reached the beach the entire group grabbed the top and bottom of the net and held it like a hammock. Then we slowly rolled the end towards the middle to gather the fish in one spot. We gathered until we were all in one big group circle shouting out the names of all the diverse fish we saw. After all that work we were finally able to scoop them out into waiting buckets.

Here is a highlight of what we got:
2 flat needlefish (Ablennes hians)
20 Atlantic needlefish (Strongylura timucu)
1 Atlantic spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber)
1 porgy (Calamus sp.)
1 doctorfish (Acanthurus chirurgus)
4 bandtail puffers (Sphoeroides spengleri)

The needlefish are a beautiful long iridescent fish that are the stars of the surface of the Giant Ocean Tank. In the ocean they calmly drift and blend in with the ripples of waves but when it is feeding time they can shoot towards prey with speed. Right now they are resting in one of our large holding tanks and snack daily on store-bought shrimp.

If it weren't for the fact that our meal tonight is going to be grilled 10-oz. boneless New York sirloin strip steak with roasted onion-garlic-shallot mashed potatoes, broiled parmesan asparagus, and corn off the cob, I would be jealous of the needlefish! Well, I better be off, looks like it is dinner time!

- Megan Moore

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