Jason is a biological scientist and project manager with nearly 20 years of professional experience and has held positions with Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Museum of Natural History, nonprofit institutions, county government, and private consulting firms. Mr. Seitz holds degrees in...

Jason is a biological scientist and project manager with nearly 20 years of professional experience and has held positions with Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Museum of Natural History, nonprofit institutions, county government, and private consulting firms. Mr. Seitz holds degrees in Fisheries Technology, Aquatic Ecology, and Soil and Water Science with an emphasis on interdisciplinary sciences.  His specialties include fish biology and ecology, bioaccumulation risk assessments using models, NEPA and ESA documentation, technical writing, and project management. Mr. Seitz has published biological research studies in regional and international science journals.

Jason is a biological scientist and project manager with nearly 20 years of professional experience and has held positions with Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Museum of Natural History, nonprofit institutions, county government, and private consulting firms. Mr. Seitz holds degrees in Fisheries Technology, Aquatic Ecology, and Soil and Water Science with an emphasis on interdisciplinary sciences.  His specialties include fish biology and ecology, bioaccumulation risk assessments using models, NEPA and ESA documentation, technical writing, and project management. Mr. Seitz has published biological research studies in regional and international science journals.
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Dec
14

In search of giant fish: What was Hemingway’s most coveted game fish?

Papa Hemingway, as he preferred being called over Ernest, was an avid fisherman throughout his life.  He purchased his famous sport fishing boat, the 38-foot Pilar, in 1934 from a company in Brooklyn, New York, for $7,495.  Hemingway named the vessel after a nickname given to his then-current wife Pauline.  The Pilar came fitted with a flying bridge, a live well, and a special modification of the transom to allow large fish to be hauled into the vessel.  Hemingway fished in the Florida Keys and off Cuba and the Bahamas.  He was particularly fond of fishing the Gulf Stream, where he often targeted tuna and marlin. 

His well-honed techniques at successfully landing big tuna and marlin, coupled with his propensity to fish the Gulf Stream using heavy tackle and the many photos of him with landed heavyweights, suggest that Hemingway was most interested in large tuna and marlin.  Anyone having read The Old Man and the Sea probably would guess that Hemingway held a special spot in his heart for marlin.  While speaking of fishing, he often would mention wanting to land a “grander”, a term that refers to 1000-pound-class marlin.  Although the largest of the marlins—Indo-Pacific blue marlin—are legendary heavyweights often referred to as granders, Hemingway’s fishing exploits are outside of the range of that species.  Similarly, the massive black marlin is absent from Hemingway’s area of exploit.  Instead, Hemingway coveted the huge Atlantic blue marlin of the Gulf Current, and he targeted them in his Key West-Havana-Bimini fishing triangle.  Although the Atlantic blue marlin averages only between 300 and 400 pounds, the species’ maximum size of over 12 feet and robust body puts it well into the grander category.  The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) all-tackle angling record, a 1,282 pound monster, was landed off St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Unfortunately, the weights of some of Hemingway’s biggest marlin remain unknown to this day due to the depredations of sharks while landing the marlin.

Of the tunas, Hemingway probably most eagerly sought the yellowfin, blackfin, bigeye, and Atlantic bluefin tunas, all of which can be caught in Hemingway’s Key West-Havana-Bimini fishing triangle.  Although all of these tunas reach impressive sizes worthy of the most skillful and resourceful of anglers, one species is perhaps the most coveted of all the tunas.  The Atlantic bluefin is often referred to simply as a “giant”.  With a maximum size of over 10 feet, coupled with a torpedo-shaped body made of pure muscle, the Atlantic bluefin may well have been Hemingway’s most prized fish.  The IGFA all-tackle record tipped the scales at about 1,497 pounds for a giant bluefin caught off Nova Scotia in 1979.

In celebration of Hemingway’s passion and aptitude for big game fishing, the Hemingway International Billfish Tournament is held each year near Havana, Cuba, where anglers target marlin, tuna, wahoo, dolphinfish, and other heavyweights over a several-day period.  A full-size replica of Hemingway’s Pilar, complete with several fighting chairs, can be seen on display at the Worldwide Sportsman store in Islamorada, Florida.  The original Pilar is on display in the Museo Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, near Havana.

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Dec
12

What kinds of animal remains contribute to the sediment of deep continental slope waters off southeastern Florida?

What types of invertebrates can be identified from the remains contributing to the sediment in continental slope waters?  An ANAMAR biologist set out to learn just what groups of invertebrates could be identified from sediment collected in the deep waters off Port Everglades Harbor, Florida.  The sample was collected using a custom-made bucket sampler that was towed a short distance across the sediment surface in 664 feet of water off Port Everglades Harbor (Fort Lauderdale), Florida. 

About 2 gallons of the sediment was sieved through a 2-mm screen.  An additional 15 ounces of the sediment was wet-sieved with a 0.8-mm fine-mesh screen to uncover the remains of smaller invertebrates.  The sample matrix was mostly greenish-gray silty fine sand, most of which was washed away during the sieving process.  The remaining shells and other hard objects were left to dry over a few week’s time.  The remains were then identified and photographed. 

southeasternflphoto1

So what was found?

The sample contained:

  • Foraminiferidas (commonly called foraminifera or forams)
  • Mollusks
    • Bivalves
    • Sea butterflies of the order Thecosomata (previously of Pteropoda)
    • Other gastropods
  • Crustacean (crab and shrimp) remains
  • Echinoid (sea urchin) spines and tests

southeastflphoto2

Are any of these remains fossilized? 

All of the shells and other remains appeared to be of Holocene age (modern).  Thus, none of the remains represent fossils.  Based on the age of the animal remains, it appears that the sediment surface is mostly recently deposited material.  However, the silt component of the sediment sample may have been older than the shell component of the sample.

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Dec
01

What animals can be found in the sediment at Canaveral Harbor, and what can they tell us about the age of the sediment?

canaveral sed photo 1

Although harbor sediment is often subjected to physical, chemical, toxicological, and bioaccumulation analyses, the biological properties often go unnoticed and unappreciated during such testing.  What can the biological properties—the critters inhabiting the sediment—tell us about the age and history of the sediment?  An ANAMAR biologist set out to learn just that, by sieving extra material from a recent sediment sampling event at Canaveral Harbor, Florida.

About 12 gallons of extra sediment sampled from Canaveral Harbor, Florida, was wet sieved with a 2-mm screen to uncover modern and fossil animal remains.  The sample matrix was mostly gray-green colored clay which was washed away during the sieving process.  The remaining shell hash component left in the sieve showed that it contained at least the remains of mollusks.  The shells and other hard objects were left to dry over a few week’s time.  The remains were then identified and photographed.

 

So what was found?

The sample contained:

  • Crustacean (crab and shrimp) claws including the purse crab genus Persephona
  • Barnacle shells
  • Echinoid (sea urchin) spines and other remains
  • Mollusk shells
    • Ark shells of the order Arcoida
    • Tusk shells including the genus Dentalium
    • Wentletraps including Epitonium cf. rupicola
    • The limpet Diodora cf. floridana
    • The land snail Polygyra septemvolva (Florida flatcoil)
  • Fish remains
    • A tooth from Carcharhinus isodon (finetooth shark)
    • Vertebrae from teleost (bony) fishes
    • A pectoral spine from the sea catfish family Ariidae

canaveral sed photo2

Are any of these remains fossilized? 

It is not always easy to differentiate a fossil from the remains of modern animals, especially when considering the remains of mollusks having calcium carbonate shells.  However, we can say with certainty that the limpet shell is a fossil because the species Diodora floridana lived only during the Pleistocene (it has been extinct for thousands of years [Peterson and Peterson 2008]).  The Florida flatcoil shells may also represent fossils as they appeared to contain consolidated mineralized material filling the internal voids, and were a much darker than modern shells of this species.  The finetooth shark tooth also represents a fossil although this species still occurs around Florida today.  Most shark teeth found in sediment or on the ground are fossils because, although sharks are abundant in today’s oceans and they continually lose and replace teeth throughout their lives, it takes a build-up of teeth over thousands or millions of years for them to be numerous enough to be easily found. 

Most of the remaining shells are Holocene in age (modern).  Overall, the shells within the sediment range in age from Holocene (recent) to the Pleistocene (12,000 to 2.6 million years ago), based on the taxonomy of the animal remains.  The presence of the land snail Polygyra septemvolva among the remains of the marine animals suggests that the sediment had been mixed with other deposits originating from terrestrial sources.

canaveral sed photo3

Source Cited:

Peterson, C. and B. Peterson.  2008.  Southern Florida’s Fossil Seashells.  Blue Note Publications, Inc., Cocoa Beach, FL.

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May
02

Important differences between FDA action levels given in the SERIM and those given by FDA

FULL WRITE-UP:

Action levels provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are used as screening benchmarks during Tier III testing evaluations under Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA).  These action levels are based on human health and economic considerations and represent limits above which the FDA can take legal action to remove products from the marketplace (EPA and USACE 1991, known as the ‘Green Book’).  The Southeast Regional Implementation Manual (EPA and USACE 2008, known as the ‘SERIM’) provides guidance for MPRSA Section 103 testing evaluations in the southeastern United States.  Some discrepancies exist between the action levels provided by the FDA and those given in the SERIM.  The table below compares action levels between the SERIM, the source document to the SERIM (FDA 2001), and the most current FDA action levels (FDA 2011).

The action level presented in the SERIM for cadmium in bivalve tissue is switched with that of crustacea (see table above).  The SERIM applies the crustacea action levels to include polychaete worms as the FDA lacks any action levels intended for polychates.  The action levels given in the SERIM for mercury are intended for use specifically for methylmercury (FDA 2001 and 2011) rather than for total mercury.

The SERIM (Section 3.3.2.2 [page 24]) and the Green Book (Section 6.3 [not paginated]) suggest the reader use an updated version of the FDA action levels when available.  FDA action levels have been updated since the SERIM was published in 2008 and, therefore, it is useful to refer to FDA (2011) for some or all action levels rather than Appendix H of the SERIM.  However, since FDA (2011) omits arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and nickel, the values given in FDA (2001) may, with the approval of USACE, continue to be used as screening benchmarks for these metals in Tier III evaluations.

Sources Cited Above:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  1991.  Evaluation of Dredged Material Proposed for Ocean Disposal, Testing Manual [Green Book].  EPA 503-8-91-001.  EPA, Office of Marine and Estuarine Protection and Department of the Army, USACE, Washington, DC.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  2008.  Southeast Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM), Requirements and Procedures for Evaluation of the Ocean Disposal of Dredged Material in Southeast U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coast Waters.  EPA Region 4, Atlanta, GA, and USACE South Atlantic Division, Atlanta, GA.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  2001.  Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guidance, Third Edition — June 2001 [online document].  Accessed 02/25/11 online at:  http://www.fda.gov/Food/‌GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/Seafood/FishandFisheriesProductsHazardsandControlsGuide/default.htm.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  2011.  Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guidance, Fourth Edition — April 2011 [online document].  Accessed 01/09/12 online at:  http://www.fda.gov/Food/‌GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/Seafood/FishandFisheriesProductsHazardsandControlsGuide/default.htm.

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