Shark tagging transmitter found off Steamer’s Lane: minus shark
October 17, 2006, the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation (PSRF) detected
a shark tagging transmitter a couple of miles off Steamer’s Lane,
drifting away from shore in a south-southeasterly direction. According
to PSRF Executive Director and Surfrider member, Sean Van Sommeran,
until recently the transmitter had been attached to a white shark they
were following through the Tagging of Pacific Pelagics (TOPP) program.
to where the shark is now, Van Sommeran said, “It’s almost certainly
patrolling off Año Nuevo Island, where we attached the transmitter last
year.” But where did shark and tagging device actually part? Van
Sommeran’s answer: “It likely drifted down the coast from Año, where
the shark dropped it after returning to the area.” Since being tagged
in Northern California, apparently the shark traveled out to a deep-sea
locale just southeast of Hawaii, which Van Sommeran calls the “bad
The shark’s migration patterns and a
wealth of other data have been made possible by the TOPP program, which
was first deployed at Año Nuevo Island and the SE Farallones in 2000
(www.topcensus.org). For instance, some of the tagged sharks have been
shown to migrate all of the way to Hawaii—demonstrating that they are,
in fact, open ocean creatures. Prior to TOPP’S inception, PSRF began
studying white sharks at Año Nuevo Island in 1992, with ID tagging
commencing in 1995. Two years later, PSRF researchers started deploying
ultra-sonic acoustic transmitters and ultimately moved to archival
satellite transmitters in the fall of 2000. The TOPP program was born
in the winter of that year.
Sommeran says finding the sharks is pretty consistent, the devices
themselves can be hard to recover when nearby cliffs cross-up RDF
equipment signals. Nonetheless, data continues to pour in from the
transmitters they do find, helping them to better understand the
behavioral patterns of these often misunderstood creatures. For related
article in The Herald, see link below. Additional information on PSRF
and their participation in the TOPP program can be found at:
- Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
- TOPP Program
- Monterey Herald Article
Surfrider members help free entangled humpback whale off Carmel Point
BAY, CALIFORNIA, 09/03/06 — Surfrider member and Pelagic Shark Research
Foundation (PSRF) Executive Director, Sean Van Sommeran, departed Moss
Landing Harbor at approximately 9:00 am to conduct a routine bottlenose
dolphin survey. Aboard the vessel Astirix (Pelagic I) were
Van Sommeran (skipper) and four research assistants, including fellow
Surfrider member and Earthwatch Institute affiliate, Anna
Janovicz. Around 9:30 am, the crew of the Astirix heard radio
traffic about a disabled whale, which they subsequently learned was a
humpback entangled in fishing gear near Carmel.
no one authorized or equipped to conduct a rescue in the area, the PSRF
crew radioed for the whale’s coordinates and began motoring to its
location off Carmel. Once underway, the PSRF team received
additional information from the Marine Mammal Center, USCG, and NOAA,
authorizing them to organize and lead the rescue. At 11:40 am,
they located the whale roughly five miles off Carmel Point.
Entangled by ropes around its tail, the
approximately 30-foot humpback was moving into deep water. The
animal also had four large ball floats attached, but, more importantly,
it was being dunked by a 1,000-pound cod trap around its “flukes” or
tail fins. According to Van Sommeran, the whale did not
appear to have any immediately life-threatening injuries to its body,
but it did appear extremely fatigued.
about 12:30 pm that afternoon, the Monterey vessel Silver Prince
arrived on the scene; and the general consensus was that it would be
impossible to assess the tangle without putting divers in the water as
any attempt to do so would likely have resulted in cuts to the whale’s
flukes. As a last resort, two experienced divers were then
deployed and proceeded to cut and untangle the ropes from the whale
with dive knives. Soon thereafter, several killer whales closed
in to within about 100 meters from the humpback; and the divers
promptly exited the water until the killer whales were observed to have
left the area.
Some 15 minutes later, the
divers re-entered the water and quickly finished cutting the
ropes. The whale, which was surmised to be a sub-adult (or less
than six years old) was freed at 12:56 pm and immediately swam full
stream toward the west. Afterward, the crew of the Astirix and
the Silver Prince retrieved two large buoys plus some line and tackle.
Unrecoverable, the cod trap sank to the ocean floor, its
30,000-pound captive now freed.
how the whale become entwined in the fishing gear, Van Sommeran said,
“Sometimes whales play with the brightly colored floats and get tangled
playing with them…usually young whales. Boats sometimes run over
nets at night,” he added, “and this can tangle and cut the gear so that
it floats all wrong and snaps or cinches onto an investigating or
The Pelagic Shark
Research Foundation maintains a Stranding/Collecting Unit specializing
in sharks, fishes and large marine animals. For more information,
please visit their web site at: www.pelagic.org.
Santa Cruz Sentinel Article:
9/4/2006 - Entangled whale freed of fishing gear
Surfrider Foundation Chapter Website of the Year!
Santa Cruz Chapter is stoked to announce that this site has won the
"Chapter Website of the Year" award from the National office of the
Foundation as announced in the Winter 05-06 Making Waves!
says: "These awards serve to recognize those chapters which through
their efforts set the mark for the rest of us to follow...
to the Carl Yoshihara at OnePixelDesign, the new site is fresh, fun and
informative. A clean navigation layout makes it easy to explore the
site. Once past the welcome page, visitors can find information on the
type of projects or programs the chapter is working on, what sort of
activism opportunities the chapter offers (everything from tabling to
beach clean-ups, to Beachscape). Santa Cruz's long-running Blue Water
Task Force program was especially well represented, with a regularly
updated and easy to read water quality reporting page.
to local amateur and professional photographers Mike MacDonald, Howard
McGhee and Bruce Topp, and Jim Littlefield (chapter chair). The site
also utilizes a stunning amount of local imagery throughout,
embellishing the experience.
Mounting Evidence of Red Tides' Harmful Effects
Sea Web Ocean
Update, March 2006 issue
'According to Gregory
Bossart of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution: "Recent,
frequent red tides off the west coast of Florida correlated
with a 54% increase in emergency room admissions for respiratory
illnesses, including, pneumonia, asthma attacks, and other
respiratory problems." Bossart and others implicate brevetoxins,
compounds produced by the dinoflagellate Karenia brevis.'