by Jerry Vovcsko
"IUU (Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated) fishing is a worldwide problem. It occurs when fishers break the rules, when they do not report their catches accurately, or when they undermine international measures that are in place to conserve our shared fisheries resources. Law-abiding fishers lose billions of dollars each year due to these activities."
That's an excerpt from a pretty good article in the Boston Globe about illegal fishing worldwide.
Here's the link:http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/03/14/bold-plan-combat-illegal-fishing-seafood-fraud/vp4v2FRaXgf0abdDCTssFL/story.html
temperatures of forty to upwards of fifty degrees have begun breaking up some of that salt water ice we've seen accumulate this year from Cape Cod Bay to Nantucket Sound. Some of those chunks of ice are massive in size and they're clogging the Cape Cod Canal, riding the currents in Vineyard Sound and bashing into each other in Wellfleet Harbor.
But not everyone views their presence as a negative.
Brian Grubb, 34-year-old professional wakeskater — an extreme sport likened to skateboarding on water - found a way to do more than just stare at the ice chunks floating around Wellfleet Harbor. He decided to ride them, proceeding to gear up and employ the large pieces of ice floating in Cape Cod bay as makeshift ramps, hitting them at high speeds as he was pulled along by a boat, performing tricks.
"It was super fun," he said. "It was a bit of a last-minute type of trip, but it was killer, and there was good weather."
Grubb said he has never seen anything like the five-foot-tall ice wedges that have attracted people from all over the state to Wellfleet's inner beaches. Drawing a pretty good crowd along the beach, he spent nearly five hours riding around, flying off car-sized ice slabs that launched him into the air. Managing to safely maneuver through a graveyard of frozen water, Grubb called the once-in-a-lifetime experience a success. But I couldn't help wondering just who was driving that boat and zooming along at high speed among those ice chunks - how do you suppose that felt?
Salt water ice can be really tricky stuff and tidal currents compound its basic instability. It's not unusual for police and firemen to be called out to rescue people and pets who have fallen through into icy waters. But Wareham firefighters recently m ended up having to employ a hovercraft and other specialized equipment to rescue ten deer that had fallen through the ice at Long Beach Point last weekend.
Firefighters donned survival suits and rode hovercraft from the Onset and Middleboro Fire Departments to rescue several of the animals with most of the deer pulled from the water appearing to be alive. Massachusetts Environmental Police and Wareham police officers also responded to the scene Sunday afternoon.
There are some truly strange-looking creatures inhabiting our oceans, some of which we've never even seen as they inhabit the deep in such places as the near-seven mile depths of the Mariannas Trench. But bizarre as today's marine creatures may seem, they don't hold a candle compared to what used to swim, glide or slither beneath the oceans of our evolving planet. Like, for instance, a giant sea creature with flaps instead of fins, a segmented body like a lobster, a helmet-like head, and a bizarre set of spiny front appendages that make it the newest addition to the weird pantheon of animals that once prowled prehistoric oceans.
According to a piece in the science journal Nature, the new species, discovered in Morocco by a team of Yale University paleontologists, looks more like an alien than an ancestor to life as we know it -- almost as if a child put a jigsaw puzzle together incorrectly. But it is a new species of anomalocaridid (literally, "weird shrimp") and sits on a quirky ancestral side branch of the family tree of arthropods -- the animal group with the most living species on earth today, consisting of crabs, butterflies, scorpions, and ants.
"The number of complete anomalocaridids can be counted on less than two hands even though people spend thousands of hours in the field or millions of hours in the field," said Jakob Vinther, a lecturer on macroevolution at the University of Bristol who was not involved in the research. "They are extremely unique fossils and really, really fascinating."
According to the article, the new fossil find supports a growing body of evidence that is transforming thinking about anomalocaridids, creatures previously thought of as the T. Rex of their time -- lethal killers that chomped on smaller arthropods called trilobites. The newly discovered species was twice as big as any anomalocaridid previously unearthed, but it was a gentle giant, not an apex predator. It strained out plankton instead of hunting prey, similar to some very large present-day whales, sharks, and rays.
It also was unearthed at a shale deposit in the Sahara Desert that dates back to around 480 million years ago, showing that these bizarre creatures stuck around far longer than initially thought. They are among a group of animals first discovered in a much older Canadian shale deposit that the late Harvard biologist Stephen J. Gould called a source of "weird wonders."
"It's actively swimming through the water, and as it swims, it sieves this plankton out of the water and feeds upon it," said Peter Van Roy, a Yale paleontologist who led the research. "It is a very big animal. One of the biggest arthropods to live, bigger than any arthropod living today."
In 2002, Van Roy began working in the Fezouata Biota in Morocco. It preserved a snapshot of the Earth that would have looked quite different. The land was largely clumped together in the southern hemisphere, in a "supercontinent" called Gondwana back when the oceans would have been interconnected. The new species is the biggest known animal. Van Roy said the species, Aegirocassis benmoulae, is named for its appearance and its discoverer. Aegir is a giant and a Norse god of the sea, while cassis is the Latin word for helmet -- a reference to the three-part shield structure around the animal's head. The second part of the name is for Mohamed Ben Moula, a collector who discovered the fossil.
The anomalocaridid looks distinctly unearthly. It would have had a hard exoskeleton and its head carapace was made up of a three-part shield. It had two appendages in front of its mouth that have spines that extend downward, creating a kind of net to catch plankton and sweep the food into its circular mouth. Its body is segmented like other arthropods, and each segment is outfitted with a pair of upper and lower flaps. The lower flaps would have been a twist on legs, used for swimming. The upper flaps would have been used in respiration, the researchers believe.
"We didn't know these animals had two sets of flaps because all the fossils we had were all so flattened," Greg Edgecombe, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, wrote in an e-mail. Now, the scientists can see that the primitive arthropods had two flaps. Their eyes resemble the compound eyes of a fly, scientists say and the flaps would have fused together to give rise to the leg of a centipede. They would have stayed separate to produce the gills and leg of a crab.
Scientists may be feeling euphoric as they proceed to assemble new theories about who and what swam in the prehistoric oceans that encircled the planet, but us lay persons gaze at a creature like this and figure it must have been assembled by a drunken creator who shoved all the leftover parts into a gunnysack and shook it until something weird fell out, got up and swam away. At least that's my take on it.
And finally there's a chance to do a little fishing locally. Some of the Cape Cod ponds are becoming accessible now from shore. The fishy inhabitants will have experienced little or no fishing pressure since late January and are going to be pretty hungry these days. PowerBaits, shiner, worms, shiny spinner baits and plastic combos should do yeoman work on bass, pickerel, trout and the occasional salmon. Peters Pond, the Brewster ponds, Mashpee-Wakeby on the Falmouth/Mashpee line are prime early season locations. Once the ice chunks have cleared out of the CC Canal, the Ditch will be worth an early season visit. No telling what's likely to be happening in the salt as this brutal winter has pretty much scrambled existing patterns and local anglers will have to figure out fishing conditions on a day-to-day basis.