Friday, November 16, 2012

Update on Ocean Sunfish Strandings in the New England Area

Dragging the canoe to the narrow channel off Great Island.
This season, NECWA has responded to 21 stranded ocean sunfish along the shores of Cape Cod and in the Buzzard Bay area. Many of these giant fish washed ashore just after the nor'easter and most have been located in the Wellfeet area.

Tiffany and Jessica helping to carry some gear. 
Deploying the canoe. 
With the help of many people and organizations, NECWA has been able to measure, photograph and necropsy 21 ocean sunfish carcasses.  And with the help of the staff from MA Audubon at Wellfleet Bay, we have collected much information on these carcasses that will be used to help protect living ocean sunfish.

Jeff and Michael giving Jessica and Leah and push into the channel.
And much help has been provided by people within the community. As an example, Jeff, Wellfleet's Herring Warden, has helped NECWA tremendously by locating many of the ocean sunfish that stranded dead in Wellfleet this past week. And he even commandeered a canoe to help NECWA and MA Audubon get to Great Island late on Sunday, November 11th, so we could access 3 dead ocean sunfish and 1 torpedo ray. Jeff got us and our gear to Great Island and made sure to get us all home safely once the work was done.

More carrying to the next narrow channel. 
Krill and Patty are heading back to Wellfleet tomorrow to try and necropsy the last of the ocean sunfish carcasses in the area. We hope that this is the end of our ocean sunfish stranding season, but assume that a few more carcasses will be reported before the end of the year. Last season, our last carcass washed ashore on Sandy Neck in Barnstable in mid January.

Michael with a dead torpedo ray.
Thanks to everyone who has helped us with our ocean sunfish stranding season. This is truly a group effort and we want to thank all who have provided information or who have assisted on site during the necropsies.

Ocean sunfish #1 on Great Island.
Please call Krill at 508-566-0009 if you see a live or dead ocean sunfish. The information that we are collecting is being shared with other researchers around the world and is helping scientists better understand this beautiful and very unusual fish.

Ocean sunfish #2 on Great Island. 
Michael starting the internal examination of this carcass.