Member Highlight: Shark Week Spotlight: Tagging Smooth Dogfish

2018-07-30T13:32:25+00:00 July 30, 2018|

(Credit: Monmouth University)

Monmouth University Assistant Professor Keith Dunton and students Lauren Kelly, Troy Ohntrup and Charlie Vasas watched as a longline baited with dozens of pieces of menhaden was slowly reeled up to the research vessel Nauvoo

(From Monmouth University) — One after another after another they came – roughly 20 in all. The dogfish days of summer are here.

Known as one of the most abundant sharks in sea, dogfish certainly enjoy their summer home on the Jersey Shore. On this day, all of the animals caught were of the species Mustelus canis, also known as the smooth dogfish.

Smooth dogfish undergo large seasonal migrations. During the spring they move to the cooler waters of the Mid-Atlantic and New England, then return south during the fall to spend their winters near the Carolinas, Dunton said. The fish grow to 4 feet long on average and primarily eat crustaceans, mollusks and small fish. Like many cartilaginous fish species, smooth dogfish have long gestation times and carry their young for up to 11 months.

As the crew unhooked each fish, they placed them in a large tank for temporary holding before surgically implanting two-year acoustic telemetry tags. Dunton described the devices as “an E-Z Pass system for fish.” When fish swim by buoys equipped with acoustic receivers, the tags will send information such as the time, date and water conditions at the moment.

The team’s work is part of a larger project meant to examine species habitat use in areas off the coast of New Jersey and New York that are being considered for potential offshore wind farms, Dunton said. The group has also been conducting land-based fishing and tagging this summer as part of UCI-funded research into the demographics and habitats of sharks and rays along the Jersey Shore.

Dunton said beachgoers have nothing to fear from these fellow swimmers.

“Dogfish are not dangers to humans,” he said. “In fact their teeth are not sharp. They are flat and…

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