Sometimes while tarpon fishing, I have to keep repeating that "Sting Rays are my Friends".
I jumped at the chance to catch some baby, "young of year" sting rays for Lyndell's research described below.
This guy won't be harassing me next summer......
population numbers of cownose rays can cause a coast-wide problem for fishermen
and aquaculturists during the ray migratory season, due to the ray's reported
consumption of mollusks (scallops, clams, and oysters) and crustaceans.
This ray predation may result in disturbance to the sea floor, interference
with gill netting for other species, reduction of the potential for shellfish
aquaculture, losses of clams in leased areas, interference with oyster
restoration efforts, and loss of seagrass beds that provide habitat for other
fishery species. Cownose rays undertake migrations through the waters of
North Carolina in the spring and fall, migrating north to Chesapeake Bay and
beyond in the spring, and returning through the waters of North Carolina in the
late summer and fall on the way south.
goal of my project is to better understand the ecological role and trophic
impact of cownose rays in North Carolina by collecting dietary consumption data
in North Carolina waters. Due to the way cownose rays extract and consume
their prey, it is very difficult to identify prey items in stomach contents
through visual methods. Molecular identification techniques can improve
the accuracy of traditional stomach content analysis by identifying species of
prey item at the genetic level. Specific objectives include 1) analysis
of stomach contents to identify which shellfish species are consumed as prey
through direct identification techniques; 2) Assess whether cownose rays
are eating shellfish of commercial value in North Carolina and Chesapeake Bay
by developing and applying a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-based molecular
test. I hope that my research will better improve our knowledge of the
life history of cownose rays, their role in NC coastal and estuarine
ecosystems, and contribute to shellfish fishery management plans". ---Lyndell Bade
Maybe next year during tarpon season we can get the Down East Guides together and stack up some rays for Lyndell.