Rock The Ocean’s “Tortuga Music Fest” to Benefit Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Ocean Conservancy

December 12, 2012

Tortuga Music Fest

Nashville, TN — Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012 — Multi-platinum artist and touring sensation Kenny Chesney is scheduled to be one of the headliners for Rock The Ocean’s inaugural TORTUGA MUSIC FESTIVAL, April 13-14, 2013, presented by Landshark Lager. The two-day music festival produced by HUKA Entertainment, will play host to twenty plus pop, rock and country artists who will perform on three stages, located directly on the beach.  Artists to include: Grammy nominated The Avett Brothers, Gary Allan, Grammy nominated Eli Young Band, Gary Clark Jr, Michael Franti & Spearhead, G. Love and Special Sauce, Kip Moore and Sister Hazel.  A second headliner and additional artists will be announced in the coming weeks.  Tickets to go on-sale Saturday, Dec 15 at www.tortugamusicfestival.com.

The sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach will be turned into our oceanfront festival grounds, making Tortuga Fest, a music and ocean lover’s paradise. Fans will enjoy music performances with the sun and stars above, an ocean breeze in the air, and sand under their feet. Local culinary fair, sustainable seafood as well as traditional festival favorites will be served.

In partnership with Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and Ocean Conservancy, a one-of-a-kind Conservation Village will be located on site to educate audience members and provide them with the information and tools they need to help conserve the world’s oceans.

Festival creators Rock The Ocean and HUKA Entertainment are thrilled to partner with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.  RTO founder, Chris Stacey said, “in addition to being a world renowned artist, Dr. Guy Harvey is a world-class conservationist. Our team is great at creating amazing concert experiences, and Guy and his team know how to help save the worlds oceans.”

“This is not your average music festival,” stated producer AJ Niland. “This festival will showcase world class talent, with world class amenities on a world class beachfront setting. More importantly, it is a festival with a purpose.”

“We are honored to partner with Rock the Oceans and HUKA Entertainment,” said Dr. Guy Harvey. “Rock the Oceans will raise awareness of marine conservation, while providing us with a memorable music experience.”

Join us April 13-14! Celebrate and conserve the ocean.


Happy Veterans Day!

November 11, 2012


New Tagging Research Reveals Remarkable Mako Shark Round-Trip Journey in High Resolution

October 30, 2012

DAVIE, FL— OCTOBER 29, 2012— A satellite reporting tagging device known as a SPOT tag, attached to a shortfin mako shark dubbed “Carol” in New Zealand five months ago, is providing scientists with remarkable and previously unknown details of the timing and long-distance migratory movements of this species.

The Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) at Nova Southeastern University is collaborating with the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) on the tagging experiment with Carol the shortfin mako shark.

The SPOT tag is revealing that Carol is spending a lot of time at the ocean’s surface, reporting her location to the satellite several times daily.

“The unexpectedly frequent daily detections are providing us with a really high resolution view of the migration of this animal,” said GHRI Director Dr. Mahmood Shivji. “We’ve found that Carol has traveled over 5,700 miles in five months, averaging 60 miles per day during some parts of her migration—and this is just a juvenile shark!”

CLICK HERE to see an interactive map of Carol’s travels.

“Conventional identification tags tell us little about the timing of mako shark movements, the route that they take or distance traveled,” said Dr. Malcolm Francis, who is leading the NIWA effort on this study.  “The SPOT tag, revealing Carol’s detailed travels from New Zealand to Fiji and back, shows theses sharks have an amazing internal navigation system that keeps them on course over long journeys.”

Given the high fishing pressure on makos for their fins and meat, this species is showing declining population trends in parts of its range, which has resulted in the species being listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Based on the amazing results from this initial trial, the GHRI and NIWA are expanding their mako migration study off New Zealand starting in January 2013, according to Dr. Shivji.  The GHRI and Dr. Guy Harvey are also working with Captain Anthony Mendillo of Keen M International to compare the migratory patterns of mako sharks in the Atlantic by tagging them off the coast of Isla Mujeres, Mexico.


And the Mystery Eyeball Belongs to…

October 15, 2012

The mystery eyeball…

A winner has finally been declared in last week’s great debate. No, not the Biden vs. Ryan matchup. We’re referring to the 2012 Mystery Eyeball Debate! After a massive, lone eyeball washed up on the Pompano Beach shore, scientists, anglers and just about everyone else weighed in on what type of sea creature could have grown – and lost! – an eye that big. Guesses included a giant squid, the bigeye thresher shark, a great white, or perhaps a marlin or some other large billfish. Well, the mystery seems to be solved…the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission says they now know:

After examining an eye found on a south Florida beach this week, researchers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) believe the specimen came from a swordfish. Genetic testing will be done to confirm the identification.

“Experts on site and remotely have viewed and analyzed the eye, and based on its color, size and structure, along with the presence of bone around it, we believe the eye came from a swordfish,” said Joan Herrera, curator of collections at the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. “Based on straight-line cuts visible around the eye, we believe it was removed by a fisherman and discarded.”

The approximately softball-size eye was recovered by a citizen in Pompano Beach on Wednesday. FWC staff received the eye later that day. Swordfish are commonly fished in the Florida Straits offshore of south Florida at this time of year.

A highly migratory fish, swordfish can be found from the surface to as deep as 2,000 feet. Swordfish in the Atlantic can reach a maximum size of over 1,100 pounds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Swordfish feed on a wide variety of fish and invertebrates.

…and a closeup of a swordfish eyeball. Mystery solved?


Guy Harvey Talks Fisheries Symposium & Guy Harvey Outpost Grand Opening with Fishing Florida Radio

September 10, 2012

Guy recently spoke with BooDreaux, Steve and Capt. Mike of Fishing Florida Radio to discuss the upcoming Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Symposium, which is being held this week in conjunction with the Grand Opening of the new Guy Harvey Outpost on St. Pete Beach. Click here to listen to the interview.

 


Guy Harvey Film Festival Coming to St. Pete Beach

September 5, 2012

Film Festival Part of Gulf Fisheries Symposium

ST. PETE BEACH, FL August 31, 2012—Legendary fisherman, artist and conservationist, Dr. Guy Harvey, will host a film festival at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort on Saturday, September 15, 2012, in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Symposium. Two of Harvey’s award-winning documentaries will be featured along with trailers for his upcoming films. Admission is free but parking is limited and will cost $5 per car. The first film with be shown at 7:00 p.m. with the second showing immediately following an intermission.

In 2011, Harvey’s documentary, This is Your Ocean: Sharks, won the Macgillivray Freeman Conservation Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival in California. It will open the Saturday night event. Also on tap for viewers will be Harvey’s latest film, Mystery of the Grouper Moon, which was filmed last year in the Cayman Islands.

“Grouper Moon is a very important project for us because it shows how science and art can work in concert to bring about responsible marine conservation,” Harvey said.

Mystery of the Grouper Moon focuses on a reef in Little Cayman where thousands of Nassau grouper congregate each February during the full moon. The grouper, which come to the same reef from miles around, are there for their annual spawning. Conservationists in Cayman persuaded the government to close fishing on the reef during the spawning season to protect the fish when they are vulnerable to mass catches by local fishermen.

“I have a lifelong love affair with fishing,” Harvey said, “and this film illustrates why there are certain times when we need to protect the species in order to have healthy and sustainable populations.”

This is Your Ocean: Sharks is a bit of a love affair as well between a man and a shark. The star of the film is Emma, a 12-foot tiger shark that has been befriended by famed scuba diver, Jim Abernethy. Conventional wisdom has been that tiger sharks are ruthless man eaters and historically they have been one of the most feared sharks. However, Abernethy and Emma formed a bond during hundreds of dives and they sometimes bump nose to dive mask in a heart-stopping show of affection. Abernethy likens Emma to a “puppy dog” and the film reveals how shark and man can peacefully co-exist.

The TradeWinds Island Grand is a 20-acre resort located on the unspoiled white sand beaches of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico, with extensive meeting space, five pools, fine and casual dining, beach bars and nearly limitless recreation for both adults and children.


Guy Harvey Research Institute, Georgia Aquarium Complete Annual Census at Stingray City

July 24, 2012

Jessica Harvey rounds up a stingray during the annual census study.

New census study shows sharp decline in number of rays at Stingray City

In mid-July, personnel from the Guy Harvey Research Institute once again collaborated with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment to conduct the annual census of the stingray population in Grand Cayman. This year, we were joined by three researchers from the Georgia Aquarium, who were on hand to assist with analyzing the overall health of the stingrays.

The situation at the Sandbar in North Sound is unique, with a large number of wild rays that are not fenced or contained but inhabit the shallow clear water with accessibility every day of the year. The socio-economic value of the rays to the Cayman economy is enormous. On average, each animal can generate up to $500,000 in revenue per year, or $10,000,000 over the course of a 20 year life span!

From a historical perspective, it is worth setting out the track record of research work conducted on the population of stingrays in Grand Cayman. Research was started by the GHRI in 2002 when all the stingrays that frequent the two main sites were caught by hand and tagged with a PIT (passive integrated transponder) at the base of their tail. During the initial count, 164 rays were tagged, weighed and measured at the Sandbar over two years. Since then, tag retention has remained near 100%, so many animals tagged ten years ago still have their PIT today. This has been a very simple and valuable tool to track the life history and growth rates of these animals.

For the period 2002 – 2003, one hundred rays were sampled each month over a three day period at the Sandbar.  The same situation was experienced in a subsequent census conducted by the GHRI in 2005 and 2008. As expected, over time there was recruitment of new (untagged) rays to the Sandbar and loss of individuals due to migration, natural mortality and possibly some predation. The sex ratio of 90% females to 10% males has remained fairly constant over this time.

The research team holds a large female ray as they prepare to draw a blood sample.

From 2010 tour operators and casual observations indicated a sudden decline in the number of rays at the Sandbar. In response to the reports, the GHRI conducted a census in January 2012 and sampled only 61rays in the standard three day research period at the Sandbar, which represents a significant (38%) decrease in number of rays compared to the last census in 2008. Now that we had some hard facts to support the eye witness accounts, the next logical step was to find out what was causing the decline in population.

The numbers of rays have been constant since research was started in 2002 with recruitment and mortality being well balanced. GHRI personnel ruled out predation by sharks in the January census due to lack of evidence of shark bites (near misses) and the corresponding demise of sharks in the last ten years. However, fishing mortality (intentionally or by accident) is a consideration.  I say this because here is no national protection for stingrays – outside of the Wildlife Interactive Zones (WIZ) this species has no protection and can be removed and consumed by residents.

Another possibility for us to consider is the overall health of the rays, which is why GHRI enlisted the support of the Georgia Aquarium veterinary staff for this year’s census. The addition of the GA vets also allowed the research work to become much more technical. Dr. Tonya Clauss (Director Animal Health, Georgia Aquarium), Dr. Lisa Hoopes  (Nutritionist, Georgia Aquarium) and  Nicole Boucha (Senior Veterinary Technician, Georgia Aquarium) arrived in Grand Cayman loaded with equipment to take blood and store these precious samples in liquid nitrogen until analysis could be achieved back in Georgia.

Over three days the team sampled 57 rays (only 5 males) at the Sandbar (down from 61 in January) with assistance from DoE staff and several volunteers. The team also spent a day at the original Stingray City and sampled 11 rays (2 males) and caught 3 rays (1 male) at Rum Point, bringing the total to 71 rays sampled.  The low number of males in this year’s sample is definitely cause for concern.

Team members – Front row: Guy Harvey, Nicole Boucha, Tonya Clauss. Back row: Lisa Hoopes, Dr. Brad Wetherbee, Alex Harvey, Jessica Harvey.

Each ray was caught by hand and transferred to the pool in the work boat where they were measured and tagged, then blood was taken from the underside of the base of the tail. Some of this blood was immediately centrifuged to make counts of white blood cells. The rest was frozen in liquid nitrogen for shipment back to the lab in the Georgia Aquarium.

From the blood samples the vets will be able to determine if the (monotonous) diet of squid fed to the rays by the majority of tour operators is affecting the animal’s health.  The processing of samples and data will take several weeks. At the end of this process we will have more knowledge about these valuable creatures and how better to manage their supplementary diet and well being.

Overall, a long term plan of monitoring the numbers of rays and their health is required. Everyone in the Cayman Islands benefits from the presence of this unique marine interactive site. Every advertising campaign or tourism related article featuring the Cayman Islands has these iconic animals up front and prominently displayed. It is time the government of the Cayman Islands returned the favor by supporting ongoing research of the stingrays’ population status and well-being by releasing funds in the Environmental Protection Fund collected for this purpose.

More updates to come.

Fish responsibly, dive safely.

Guy Harvey PhD.