NCBS Intern Report: Fisheries Independent Monitoring
NCBS Intern Report written by Tyler Fogt with hosts Caleb Purtlebaugh and Johnny Polasik with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
My name is Tyler Fogt and I had the pleasure of working with the Fisheries Independent Monitoring team out of FWC’s Cedar Key lab. FIM is an ongoing project that uses stratified random sampling methods to gather data on the Cedar Key fishery using various field sampling methods.
Seining the Summer Away
The main aspect of this internship is the inshore sampling of habitats in Cedar Key and the Suwannee River with the use of seine nets and trawl nets. We used both 600’ and 70’ seines, with the 70’ net having a few different applications. My first day on the job we had to do four consecutive 600’ drops and I was ready to call it a week. You really don’t comprehend how long 600’ is until you have to strain to pull it in foot by foot with oysters, mud, and 35-pound black drum fighting you all the way. I got used to it though, and being a fisherman at heart, its rewarding to see just what fish are hiding where and the sheer diversity of fish that could be in one spot.
Another part of the FIM internship is offshore sampling, where FWC charters boats and captains out of Panama City to go hook-and-line sampling in the Gulf. This is a nice change of pace from the inshore net sampling, and the team really seems to look forward to these trips; probably because you can easily get 70 hour work weeks and as long as you’re not an intern, you get really nice overtime checks. The offshore work consisted of using electric reels to fish the bottom at about 50 random sites with two different hook configurations and three different hook sizes. The overwhelming majority of our catch was Lutjanus campechanus, Red Snapper. I quickly learned that these fish have razors for operculums and after the first day it was difficult for me to close my left hand from all of the cuts I suffered from, but I wore a glove and all was good. We kept a random half of the fish we caught to take otolith, mercury, gonad and stomach samples, then donated them to a non-profit back on shore.
I learned a great deal from this experience. All of the sampling methods that we used were new for me so I learned four different seine procedures, trawling, and scientific hook-and-line sampling. I knew most of the fish work-up from past experience but mercury samples were new for me. I also learned dozens of new marine species, their scientific names, and how to ID them.
After working with the FIM crew for six weeks I have a new respect for the effort that it takes to obtain fisheries data. I take pride in my time with FIM and the data that I helped to collect that will eventually be used in making better management decisions to benefit the Cedar Key fishery as well as the red snapper fishery. I thank the entire Cedar Key FWC FIM team for putting up with me and teaching me so much as well as UF IFAS for providing me with this opportunity to dive into the field and gain pertinent career-specific experience.