Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Part in Great American Fish Count
Organize First New England Effort in the Great American Fish Count
Anne Smrcina, 781-545-8026, ext. 204
the month of July, volunteer divers on both coasts will be seeking
out and counting fish as part of the Great American Fish Count.
The volunteer Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary dive team
will be making the first dives in this region previously
all the counts had been in tropical or west coast locations.
Great American Fish Count (GAFC) is a national dive event coordinated
by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) which mobilizes
and trains volunteer divers and snorkelers in established methodologies
to identify and document fish diversity and population trends
in marine sanctuaries and other coastal areas. The GAFC has been
helping resource mangers assess local fish stocks by providing
an annual snapshot of local fish populations, much like the annual
Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
newly organized Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary dive team has participated
in the states biodiversity days with several dives to record
regional marine life and is helping to identify wrecks located
throughout the sanctuary. The Gerry E. Studds/Stellwagen Bank
National Marine Sanctuary is an 842-square-mile area located at
the mouth of Massachusetts Bay between Cape Ann and Cape Cod.
Most of the regions whalewatching boats use Stellwagen Bank
as a destination, and commercial as well as recreational fishing
boats have targeted a variety of species that visit the bank.
Sanctuary dive team consists of four highly qualified divers who
have over 60 years of dive experience and over 3,300 dives to
their credit. Bob Michelson, a
videographer and photographer, and dive team leader, has trained
the team in use of underwater imaging technologies. Doug Costa,
a registered Emergency Medical Technician and Master Diver Instructor,
has made over 1,200 dives to depths as great as 270 feet. Robert
Murray, another master scuba diver has made similar deep dives,
as well as dives under ice, to wrecks, and in caves. Stephen Neuger
rounds out the team with close to 500 dives to his credit under
a variety of conditions. Diving at the Stellwagen Bank National
Marine Sanctuary is much different from that experienced in other
sanctuaries due to the cold water (usually less than 50 degrees
F. even in the summer), the distance from shore, the prevailing
bottom currents, and the active boat traffic. Due to these conditions,
diving in the sanctuary is not recommended for anyone other than
highly skilled, mixed gas divers.
GAFC is an annual event that takes place during the first two
weeks of July at sites around the country. In addition to the
Great American Fish Count, the sanctuary is supporting a number
of research projects that are focusing on fish ecology and fish
habitats in the region, and the National Marine Fisheries Service
continues its long-term regional surveys of fish populations.
For more information on GAFC, please visit http://www.fishcount.org
interested in covering the first Stellwagen Bank National Marine
Sanctuary dives for the Great American Fish Count should contact
the sanctuary at 781-545-8026 or call Sanctuary Education Coordinator
Anne Smrcina at 508-243-1585. Limited space is available on the
boat (sorry no one is allowed to dive off the sanctuary
vessel without NOAA certification). Video and still images will
be available that day.