Nautical News: For the week of April 1, 2018

TRAGEDY STRUCK AGAIN IN VOLVO OCEAN RACE

 

Tragedy has struck again in the Volvo Round The World Ocean Race. John Fisher, 47 years old, from Southampton, England fell overboard from his team’s Sun Hung Kai’s Scallywag sailboat as they were racing towards Brazil from New Zealand. Crew members said Fisher was knocked overboard by the yacht’s mainsail after he unclipped his tether to straighten out a line. The crew said John was wearing a lifejacket and a survival suit, but believed he was knocked unconscious from the blow before he hit the water. The crew quickly dropped two buoys overboard, but by the time they got the boat under control and turned around, the wind and waves made it impossible for them to find either their crew mate or the buoys. They searched for several hours before it was declared that John Fisher was lost at sea. The accident happened 1400 miles west of Cape Horn in the Southern Ocean. Volvo Ocean Race officials ordered the crew aboard Scallywag to sail to the nearst port in Chile. In a previous leg of the race, you might recall another team’s boat struck a Chinese fishing boat, killing one of the Chinese fishermen on board. Also in this leg of the race to Brazil, two other boats, Vestas 11th hour Racing Team and Team Mapfre, were demisted.

 

NOAA WEATHER RADIO TRANSMITTERS OFF AIR

 

Several New England NOAA weather radio transmitters suffered damage from all the N’oreasters that hit us in March. Also, there have been glitches with some of the transmitters after NOAA relocated them. For weeks, mariners have been unable to listen weather forecasts on their VHF marine radios, creating a safety hazard for offshore mariners. In Massachusetts, two of NOAA’s weather radio transmitters are still off air. One is located at the Blue Hills Weather Observatory and the other is located in Hyannis. The transmitter in Gloucester was back on line this past week.

NO NEW NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALE CALVES SPOTTED

Researchers report they haven’t spotted any new North Atlantic right whale calves this season. Trained spotters look for newborns from December to the end of March by flying over the coasts of Florida and Georgia, where female right whales typically give birth. This is the first time since 1989 that no newborns have been found, whereas previous years an average of 17 births have been counted. NOAA now claims about 467 North Atlantic right whales exist, and only 100 of them are breeding females, which severely limits the gene pool and leads to much inbreeding. Some scientists are holding out hope that the mothers have shifted their locations and that calves might be somewhere spotters aren’t looking.

 

OCEAN WIND FARM POWER CABLES CHASE FISH AWAY

 

And here is news on another federal study. Federal officials say they are looking at new studies at how underwater power cables from wind farms are affecting fish. They are concerned about how fish might react to the electric magnetic field or heat given off by the wind farm’s power cable that connects to a shore sub-station. Officials acknowledged that the subtle electromagnetic impulses can divert the fish in their migrations and keep them away from the near shore areas. And indeed, recreational and commercial fishermen have reported that areas where the underwater Block Island wind farm electric cable lines are located are now completely devoid of fish.

 

THREE DOLPHINS SAVED AFTER STRANDING ON CAPE COD

 

This past week, three dolphins were found stranded on a Brewster Cape Cod Beach and were successfully returned to back to the ocean by a team from the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Two other dolphins were discouraged and turned around before they got stranded. Rescuers said the dolphins appeared to be healthy and uninjured and no one knows for sure why they beached themselves.

 

LAWSUIT AGAINST NORTHEAST UNDERWATER MONUMENT AREA

 

A lawsuit filed a year ago by several different fishing groups against the The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument created by former President Obama is moving forward after a U.S. District Court Judge lifted a stay that was placed on the case. The monument area in question occupied about 5000 square miles off the coast of New England and prohibited commercial fishing. Fishermen claimed that Obama and the federal government exceeded the President’s authority and did not have the authority to establish the monument based on the Antiquities Act, given that the ocean is not “land owned or controlled by the federal government.” Now it will be up to President Trump to decide whether or not to defend President Obama’s monument decision in court. His decision is expected by the middle of this month.

 

WORLD FISH MIGRATION DAY APRIL 21st

 

April 21st is World Fish Migration Day, a global celebration to create awareness on the importance of open rivers and migratory fish. Organizations from around the world will be holding own events around the common theme of “Connecting Rivers, Fish, and People.” A big event is planned In Plymouth. Staff from NOAA Fisheries will provide interpretive tours at 11 am and 1 pm of four dam removals and efforts to restore migratory fish to Plymouth’s Town Brook. Meet up at the Plimoth Grist Mill at 6 Spring Lane. Again the date is Saturday, April 21st.

 

ANNUAL WEYMOUTH HERRING RUN CLEAN UP APRIL 7th

 

And last on today’s nautical news, the annual Weymouth herring run cleanup is scheduled for next Saturday, April 7th, at the Herring Run Park in Jackson Square. Meet behind Niko’s Restaurant at the corner of Commercial and Broad Streets at 8 AM and bring gloves and boots to work along the river banks. In years past, everything from shopping carts to automobile tires have been removed along with tree branches and plastic bottles. The Weymouth herring run is one of the state’s biggest herring runs where 30 – 40,000 fish swim up the 117 step wooden ladder to spawn in Whitman’s Pond. Of course as the herring swim from the ocean to the pond, they are easy prey for gulls, cormorants, ospreys, and sharks.


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