Wednesday, June 5, 2024

History of Satellite Tagging for Dolphin-Fish

On June 4th, 2005, DRP founder Don Hammond deployed the first satellite tag for our program while fishing aboard vessel Tag Team off of Charleston, South Carolina. After that deployment, Hammond went on to deploy 14 more satellite tags for our program on fish off the Bahamas, Mexico, and different locations off Florida.

Originally, Hammond used the Domeier method, which is when a titanium anchor dart is pierced into the fish's dorsal musculature, to attach satellite tags to qualifying fish. In 2014, he modified his attachment protocol to a thread-through method, which is when a hypodermic needle is used to button the tag to the fish.

During that fishing season, he tagged two fish using the thread-through method, and one went on to carry the tag for 180 days, the maximum monitoring period our program uses for tags purchased from Microwave Telemetry. Since then, our program has deployed 93 satellite tags using the thread-through method, with further modifications.

While we still have yet to replicate another 180-day track, we just acquired our second longest at 158 days for a 40" female tagged and released aboard Miss Costa Rica fishing out of Tropic Star Lodge last November. This tag surfaced and began transmitting on April 25th.

Additionally, on April 4th and April 5th, two other tags surfaced and began transmitting after remaining on 43" and 38" male dolphinfish for 90 days off Mexico and Guatemala. Those fish were tagged and released aboard Finest Kind and Pica Mas fishing out of Casa Vieja Lodge.

Acquiring long duration or full-interval monitoring periods has always been our goal when deploying satellite tags, and for dolphinfish over the past three years and 35 tags deployed, more than half (20 tags; 57%) either produced full-interval records, were recaptured, or acquired monitoring periods >40 days. To learn more about our satellite tracking research click here. To sponsor a tag contact us!