Monday, September 15, 2008

Rescuing Tropical Fish in Rhode Island

Because the Gulf Stream brings juvenile tropical fish from the Caribbean all the way to southern New England, divers sometimes find baby tropicals in the shallows while diving in Rhode Island and further south.  Unfortunately, when winter comes and the water temperatures drop, they die.  So, for many years, the New England Aquarium Dive Club has organized a fall tropical fish rescue day event in Rhode Island to collect the tiny fish.  Many of them go to home aquaria, and the rest go to the New England Aquarium.  Many of the enormous fish in the Giant Ocean Tank exhibit at the aquarium were actually caught during the tropical fish rescue, and would have died if they hadn't been saved.

I thought this would make a fun Blue World segment, so I joined seasoned pro fish rescuers Alicia Lenci and Michael Schruben for a lesson in fish hunting.  They have been a part of the fish rescue for many years, and assisted me on my film Secrets of the Reef in the Philippines as pro "fish wranglers."  The problem isn't so much catching the fish, but finding them.  They are small, and they hide in the rocks in very shallow water (really, not deep enough that you need scuba gear...some people hunt them with a snorkel).  Michael and I did a couple dives and he showed me how to find and catch the fish, while Tim Geers and Kerry Hurd shot the footage of it all happening.

We encountered somewhat limited visibility from recent storms, and some surge, which made the filming difficult, but I think it will still make a good segment.  We still have some more filming to do for the segment at the New England Aquarium, but it's going to be fun when complete, and should end up in the second season of Jonathan Bird's Blue World.