Surgery usually requires a few things. The list includes: skill, steady hands, tools, an awesome team of people, and a plan. The one thing normally not included: diving. During our past October trip Kylie, Lauren, Daniel and I headed down to our second home in the Florida Keys to abduct four unsuspecting stoplight supermale parrotfish and insert tracking tags inside of them to help us determine their territory size.
We started off our trip normally by doing our regular surveys to add to our data set and later include in our current projects. The surveys went by quickly enough that we had plenty of time to scout our parrotfish and create a plan of action. We went to work the day after to determine how exactly we would catch these little guys. After anchoring up and collecting our supplies, we dropped down onto one of our reef sites at Coral Gardens. The four of us set up a giant net to (theoretically) corral the parrotfish into. However, after almost an hour of trying to catch the fish, we determined that was pretty improbable. Discouraged and low on air, we headed back to the boat, and then home.
After some much needed optimism and the addition of our friend at the Keys Marine Laboratory, Mike Mike Mike, we decided to try to catch them at night while they slept. It only took about 20 minutes before we found our fish! Daniel held him as Kylie went to work taking the scales off and opening him up to insert the tag. I don’t know about anyone else on my team, but I had to keep reminding myself to breathe as time went by. Kylie completed the final stitching and then we set him free. He struggled a bit, but gathered enough strength to swim off!
The next few days we lost Mike Mike Mike, but gained a new friend from FWC, Paul. Between fending off jellyfish and the not-always-so-intelligent boat drivers, we spent the next few days trying to catch three more fish during the day. Because Paul is awesome we did get one in the daylight, but the next two had to be done at night. The week came to an end sooner than we wanted, but by the end we had inserted all four tags into four different fish and made some great new friends.
Even though we had never done this before, it went pretty well! Hopefully our next trip will show us some awesome results and we’ll get to revisit our new friends!