Of course all good things must come to an end, and the summer of sunfish is coming to a close. Although along the trip there has been occasional shedding of blood, sweat and tears (sometimes simultaneously!) I have loved every mad minute of it. We have tissue samples from 51 sunfish and tag data from 2 which is a fantastic result (up 5000% from last year!) Of course we still have 2 sunfish tags out somewhere in the Ligurian Triangle that I am still hopeful will return to us eventually 🙂
The sun sets on another field season
I realise I am probably one of the luckiest researchers in the world chasing down big fish in beautiful locations and I have to thank the people who enable me to do this, namely The Fisheries Society of the British Isles (who fund my PhD) and the Portofino Marine Protected Area authorities and fishermen of the Tonnarella whose kindness and support in the field has been incredible! I cannot thank them enough (but fortunately beer is the international vote of thanks!) Alongside this star cast, I also received generous funding support for this field season from The Royal Society of Biology and the William and Betty MacQuitty Travel Scholarship QUB.
Going to miss these guys…
So what happens next? No time for back-to-work-blues as I am heading back to Belfast to work up my data for a month… then I’m afraid I’m jetting off again to my first big international conference! The American Fisheries Society Conference is one of the biggest gathering of fish biologists in the world (up to 3,000 people!) over a week of talks, trade fairs, training sessions and socials. I am attending the conference courtesy of the FSBI and AFS student exchange programme and through travel funding from the Marine Institute which means I can present a talk on sunfish distribution and a poster on sunfish use of mesopelagic depths! Little bit terrifying but extremely exciting! I will be blogging and tweeting from the conference and following that I will be using my time State-side to meet with a man who knows more about sunfish needs than anyone, Michael Howard, senior aquarist and keeper of the sunfish at Monterrey Bay Aquarium!
Lots of fun to come!
We hope to do a few feeding trials with Michael’s sunfish and hopefully validate the harness and tags on an individual we can actually watch! Fingers crossed the sunfish in the tanks are big and healthy for September!
Michael Howard target training sunfish
But lots of work to do before then so better crack on! Updates to be posted soon 🙂