Guy Harvey Magazine

WIN 2017

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 41 of 83

42 | Of course, the event is not all fun and fishing. There is also serious science on the menu. In addition to high-stakes competition, the Classic is also a source of important biological data on a variety of fish species, which means participating anglers have a hand in helping the fishery. "The Large Pelagics Team is always on site sampling fish brought to the Classic weigh scales," says Jim Franks, a senior research scientist with the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. "This helps us and the management agencies have a better understanding of these big-game sport fish. Last year, we focused our efforts on blue marlin and dolphin. We collected otoliths (ear bones) to determine aging, as well as samples of the reproductive systems. Only a few blue marlin were brought in, so this gives us an excellent opportunity to collect these vital samples. We sampled a weight range of dolphin, too, to see if we can learn more about these fish." In addition to these academic efforts, state agencies are actively involved on the tournament circuit as well. " The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) along with various state and federal partners attend fishing tournaments throughout the year to assist with biological data collection, taxonomic identification of less common species, public outreach for educational and regulatory information, and state record certifications," says Carly Somerset, a marine fisheries scientist with the MDMR. " The majority of work has focused on biological data collection," she adds. "We've had teams at the Gulfport Deep Sea Rodeo to collect samples for a variety of projects for stomach content analysis, parasitological studies, and shark research. MDMR personnel have collected otoliths for age analysis and assisted the other agencies with their collection efforts at the Deep Sea Rodeo. Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) has collected freshwater species for genetic studies, and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) takes samples from pelagic species for testing of mercury and selenium." Of course, the event is not all fun and fishing. There is also serious science on the menu. Above: University and state wildlife biologists take advantage of the tournament settings to conduct important scientific sampling of weighed fish.

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