Have you ever wondered what happens to your fish
when you release it after itís weighed in at a tournament? If you catch your
redfish in Pine Island Sound, do you think it will go back? Or, will it hang
around in the upper harbor? These are great questions, and the answer is, we
donít know, but we want to. Since 2007 Kids Cup participants have been helping
researchers learn more about Redfish behavior and specifically where Kids Cup
redfish go after being released. Thanks to a collaborative effort of the WaterLIFE Kids Cup tournament and a number of
scientific entities, weighed in
redfish were tagged as part of a research and education program. The beauty of
this tagging program is that not only are researchers having the opportunity to
learn about redfish behavior, so are participants.
At each annual Tournament Weigh Master, Capt. Ralph tagged every redfish
weighed in with a dart tag. Each tag has a unique identification number. This
tag is visible to anglers and the data received from these tags is almost
entirely angler dependent. What I mean by this is that researchers and
participants only receive information about the tagged fish if an angler catches
the fish, records the tag number and location the fish was caught, and reports
these finding via the phone number listed on the tag.
In addition to the dart tags, 20 randomly selected tournament redfish
received a sonic tag. The sonic tag is implanted into the redfish by scientists
from Mote Marine Laboratory,
University of Florida and Progress Energy. The sonic tag is not readily
visible to anglers. Data is being received from these tags using under water
sensors called VR2s (VEMCO). Mote and Sea Grant have deployed VR2s along the
path that we suspect redfish will travel. Each unit is able receive information
from the sonic tag within a radius (array) around the underwater sensor. So if a
sonically tagged fish travels within the underwater array, the tag transmits a
unique signal (frequency) to the VR2 where it is stored.
Weekly, we are going
out to download the underwater sensors to receive the data so that we can see
which of our tagged fish were in the area of the VR2s.
The sonic tags can also be picked up by a unit deployed off of the side of a
vessel. This unit is called a VR100. FWC provided a VR100 for the
tournaments and some follow up events. With the
VR100 we will attempt to go out and find our tagged fish and follow them for a
period of time.
This tagging effort is an important step in the understanding of redfish
behavior and travel patterns. Remember it is up to each of us to make this
program a success. Spread the word about the importance of collecting dart
tagged fish information (Date, Place of Capture, Length of Fish, Tag #) and
calling that information in to the Redfish hotline 1-800-367-4461 (you may find
dart tags on other fish species too).
Many thanks to everyone involved in this project (see Partner page), including
our volunteers who without, this project would not be possible!