All quiet on the sunfish front…

We are taught that history has a delightful tendency to repeat itself, and such is the case in Italy this year. The data loggers I deployed last week have vanished once again! No bleep from the radio tags, no splash of yellow floating in the sea… however, always the optimist, I believe that the recent storms may have pushed the floats further offshore or driven them north. This is not a serious problem, as all my equipment is well labelled so that anyone who finds such a strange looking object on the beach will see the reward label and my contact details, so I will simply have to be patient once again!

The recent storms compared to calmer days!

In the meantime, I am out with the fishermen as often as the weather (and train connections) will let me! No more sunfish at the moment, but it is still early in the season and the temperature has plummeted over the last few days, so fingers crossed more to come.

“No sunfish here!” Fishermen using a ‘spectaculare’ to search for fish in the Tonnarella and taking a break on deck

As the weather looks to be stormy all week, with high swell (and therefore a bad idea to deploy further loggers), I am taking the chance to turn my little apartment into a cutting edge isotope and statistical analysis laboratory! I’m collecting samples from along the coast to consider potential prey items for ocean sunfish and assess the local ecosystem structure. This requires me to collect all manner of plants and creatures (from rockpool invertebrates, to the local catch of the day and fisheries discards) for stable isotope analysis. We can then identify the chemical signature of each species, and see which occur in sunfish tissues (you are what you eat!) I’m also analysing further data for differing chapters in my PhD, so plenty to be getting on with, and I will be back on the fishing boats later in the week when the stormy weather breaks 🙂

Isotope sampling (ontop of the laundry basket of course!) and preparing for wet weather

In the meantime, if anyone is holidaying in Italy and spots a sunfish harness please let me know!  As always, if you find a sunfish dead or alive, or have a burning question drop me a line in the comments section below or contact me:

Email: nphillips01@qub.ac.uk

Twitter: @sunfishresearch

Instagram: sunfishresearch

A collection of my Italian experiences so far!

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