Looking at Wash-ups and Strange Catches

For many years I have been investigating strange wash- ups and catches. These are the fishes and other marine life that wash up on our beaches, or are caught in the nets of commercial fisherman. Every year I get calls from lifeguards and fisherman that find something strange. As a fisheries observer I collect this data and send it to appropriate researchers. Last year not too much was going on the wash up front. A large Sand Tiger Shark washed up in LBI. I got calls for the usual strange carcasses of Atlantic Sturgeon. A juvenile Great White washed up on a Long Island beach just across from, and in sight of, Sandy Hook. The strangest shark wash-up I investigated was a young Blue Shark that washed up showing no signs of damage at Monmouth Beach. Mauve jellyfish in South Jersey and dead Cow Nose Rays in Allenhurst brought some calls. On the commercial front Conger eels, and lots of large sharks in nets were brought to my attention. By watching the strange things that appear on beaches and in nets we can get an idea of what is going on in the ocean. So far this year the wash-ups have not brought good news. Whales, dolphins, and seals predominate the reports. Let’s hope this trend stops soon. For me the most interesting wash-ups came from Sea Bright. In the span of a week I found coconuts, pineapples, exotic nuts and seeds, exotic driftwood, a large dead fresh water carp, and a long-neck tropical fresh water turtle. This occurs when little pools of water break off from the Gulf Stream and move to shore. It lets us get a glimpse of tropical south.

Just an addition to this post. I was on the beach today from Monmouth Beach to Sandy Hook before the storm and found again, lots of tropical debris. Coconuts and tropical driftwoods are abundant. Any crafters wanting some interesting driftwood should get out there today before the storm washes it all away.