Friday, April 1, 2011

Seine Flounder

A nice, healthy flounder caught on 3/26/11 while beach seining in the Lagoon at the Head of Pond site. First time we caught a flounder in the seine....!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Article in today's Foster's Daily Democrat, NH paper

UNH researchers working to restore winter flounder populations on Martha's Vineyard

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Photo by Andrew Jacobs Volunteers for the UNH Winter Flounder Enhancement Project pull a seine to capture and inventory fish in Menemsha Pond on Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

Click here to view Foster's prints for sale

DURHAM — Winter flounder populations off the coast of Massachusetts are getting a helping hand from University of New Hampshire researchers.

Winter flounder populations in southern New England waters — also called the Mid-Atlantic Bight — have been steadily declining since the early 2000s, primarily due to overfishing, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. UNH researchers have spent the last decade conducting research on establishing methods to effectively restore and enhance winter flounder populations. One community in the Mid-Atlantic Bight — Martha's Vineyard, Mass. — recently sought advice from UNH researchers, who have developed an enhancement project aimed at improving winter flounder stocks.

"Winter flounder stocks are in dire need of help," according to Elizabeth Fairchild, UNH associate professor of zoology and the project's principal investigator. "Cutting back on fishing alone will not restore these populations in a timely manner. All responsible management tools, including restocking, should be considered."

With funding from the National Sea Grant College Program and the Science Consortium for Ocean Replenishment, volunteers on Martha's Vineyard have literally plunged into the project. Following a recent training session at the UNH Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex in New Castle, volunteers began collecting data in the icy waters of Lagoon Pond and Menemsha Pond on Martha's Vineyard. Two times a month, they take core samples to determine food availability for flounder, monitor water quality and pull seine nets through the shallow waters to determine what species of fish and macroinvertebrates are present. The core samples are sent back to UNH where Fairchild's lab assistants analyze the results.

Project participants will continue collecting data through November in order to determine the most appropriate winter flounder stocking strategies. If these sites show promise as enhancement locations, researchers and volunteers will stock the ponds with as many as 50,000 hatchery-reared winter flounder and monitor their populations to determine the stocking effectiveness.

"This study is a demonstration project, and this community is a testing ground to show how to start and implement winter flounder restocking programs," Fairchild said. "If this project is successful, it will serve as a model applicable to other New England fishing communities seeking to recover winter flounder populations."

On Martha's Vineyard, interest in and support for this project comes from residents of the island, fishermen and bay scallopers as well as from members of the Wampanoag Reservation, says UNH Ph.D. student Shelley Edmundson, who works closely with the volunteers on the island. "The public has been extremely supportive and excited about the project, particularly long-time residents who remember decades ago when the flounder fishery was successful," she says. "It's great to see people working together across the island to try to help the winter flounder and bring back the fishery."

To find out more information about the project, please visit Fairchild's winter flounder enhancement blog at or contact her at

Photo by Curtis Chandler Volunteer Andrew Jacobs prepares to take a core sample of the sediment in Menemsha Pond on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., as part of the UNH Winter Flounder Enhancement Project.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Benthic Sample Processing

At the beginning of this week Kim, Kristin, and an array of undergraduate students finished processing the first round of November core samples from Martha's Vineyard. Taylor was the first site we tackled and come to find out appears to have some of the most diversity of all Vineyard sites, at least for November. It was a good crash course for us learning to ID a variety of polychaetes, bivalves, amphipods, and the occasional isopod. Throughout all of the Menemsha Pond sites we continued to see a diversity of species. Once we began the site at Lagoon pond it quickly became apparent that shells would be in the majority of specimen composition. For all of the sites in Lagoon we found a lot of different bivalves and gastropods. We even ended up using a North American shell guide to help with the identification. The two most common families of polychaetes were Nereidae and Spionidae. For bivalves we found a lot of Veneridae and Tellinidae specimens. As for the amphipods we had specimens from every family in our guide book as well as some we had not seen before. Gastropods from Lagoon Pond were primarily slipper shells and a species from the Cerithiidae family, Bittium alternatum. Here are some photos of some of the common and interesting things that we have found to this point:

Family Nereidae

Close up of the head of a Nereis

Family Tellenidae

Bittium alternatum

One of two bay scallops (Argopectin irradians) that we have seen so far

Astarte undata

Family Epitoniidae

Family Ischyroceridae

Family Phoxocephalidae

Mysid Shrimp (Praunus flexuosus) that we found a few of

All of us in the lab are looking forward to only 5 cores per site! We have a good start on Menemsha Pond sites for December already and can't wait to see what other kinds of interesting things we find!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Photos from Mike 11-16-2010


Taking a core sample
<---Core Samples

Sorting and looking for Winter Flounder

Temperature gauge attached to buoy

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lagoon 12/13&14

We sampled Lagoon Pond this past monday and tuesday - in the wet and cold. Promises for the weather we will see this winter. Everything went smoothly and we worked well with each other. We caught an adult winter flounder (over 14 inches) in one of our beam trawls!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sites on the Vineyard

At left is a scenic view of Menemsha Pond taken from the Wampanoag Tribal Hatchery in Aquinnah (Gay Head) looking towards the mouth of the pond. Below is the West Arm site in Lagoon Pond with Danielle and Mike's boat in the background.

A Successful Start

This project is off to a successful and promising start! First we had the training workshop for project participants (Nov. 10-11) at the UNH Marine Facility which was led by my lab and hosted by NH Sea Grant. Groups from both MA and NY as well as representatives from the NOAA Aquaculture Program, Sea Grant, and the Coastal Conservation Association attended. The workshop was primarily geared towards those involved with this project on a daily basis. Mornings were spent discussing implementing responsible stock enhancement strategies and programs, the importance of knowing as much as possible about potential stocking sites, and how to culture fish destined for releases. Afternoons were dedicated to hands-on training in the field and in the hatchery. Project participants learned how to beach seine, fish a beam trawl, and operate a sediment corer. A tour was given of the UNH Coastal Marine Laboratory where winter flounder are produced each year and participants got to tag juvenile fish with both elastomer and t-bar tags.

The week following the workshop, Nate Rennels and I visited both groups on their home turf to help get the field work started. First working with the Martha's Vineyard crew, we selected 4 sites each in both Menemsha and Lagoon Ponds which will be surveyed for one year. We were very impressed by the eagerness, readiness, and communal spirit of the group. It seems when Warren Doty, the Vineyard project manager, gives the order for all hands on deck, EVERYONE responds. We have no doubts that this group will get things done!

Next Nate and I continued on to East Hampton, NY where we did a repeat. Four sites were selected in both Napeague Harbor and Lake Montauk, and sampling was started. We were pleased by the support from the Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson as well as the encouragement and help from the Town Trustees and assistance from harbormaster Ed Michels and his crew Jim and Dale.

Now the winter flounder stock enhancement project is in the hands of these two groups. As they sample and collect data, we at UNH will process and analyze the information which will be used to determine future stocking strategies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pond Work

On Martha's Vineyard we have completed the first round of ecosytem samples from Lagoon Pond. Thanks to Danielle, David, and Mike for all the hard work. We have four stations and now we have 40 core samples already sent to UNH and we have data sheets on 12 beam trawl tows and nine beach seine hauls. We had big catches of silversides, bay scallops, starfish, and a few flounders. The beam trawls caught great quantities of bay scallops and the beach seines caught silversides. We did not have any big catches of flounder.
The end of our day today was cut short when the steering on our boat suddenly died. We were adrift at 4PM with the end of the day approaching. But David (our trusted captain)had this planned perfectly and the wind blew us to shore. And as every prepared captain has things planned perfectly, David had a truck right on this shore even though it was three miles away from our dock and our launching point. How did he do that?
So our November collection for Lagoon Pond is complete. We will complete our first collection for Menemsha next week.