The International Billfish Tournament of Club Náutico de San Juan will serve as a launching platform for National Geographic Society scientists to deploy their Crittercam system on blue marlin during the Tournament’s 59th edition Sept. 23-30, 2012.
Gustavo Hermida, Commodore of Club Náutico de San Juan (CNSJ) and Miguel Donato, Tournament Chairman, said National Geographic Society (NGS) will deploy — for the first time in Puerto Rico– the Crittercam system to capture images of blue marlin in their natural environment using Tournament’s participating boats.
Jean-Paul Polo, NGS producer, said it would be the first time crittercams will be deployed on blue marlin in a tournament setting, and will also include a documentary billfish production.
The documentary, which will focus on biology, behavior and conservation of billfish, will draw on footage from many locations, possibly including Panama, Cape Verde, Australia, Azores Islands as well as Puerto Rico, said Polo. Currently, tests of a new Crittercam system are being conducted in Costa Rica where Sam Friederichs, the projects main researcher, is located.
For the past 20 years, the Remote Imaging Department of NGS has deployed Crittercams on more than 65 species of animals from emperor penguins to whales, turtles and sharks in order to capture the essence of animals and how they behave in their natural environment.
Hermida said NGS’s Crittercam leaders visit, including Greg Marshall, Vice President of Remote Imaging at National Geographic Society, is recognition of the Club’s commitment to work tirelessly for the sport, billfish conservation and friendship among countries united by sport fishing. “We are proud to share and receive representatives from National Geographic Society,” said Hermida.
Donato, meanwhile, said that since the Tournament allows visiting anglers to rotate through participating boats, NGS will have the opportunity to meet different deep sea fishing anglers from around the world to exchange information.
“We will support National Geographic Society in anything they might need from our IBT,” said Donato. “Our Tournament has been committed to billfish conservation since 1987, when Tag & Release format was first implemented. That is 25 years of crystal-clear commitment to conservation of species.”
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY
Marshall said Club Náutico de San Juan and its International Billfish Tournament offer an “ideal scenario” for Crittercam research. “With anglers dedicated to conservation and a Tournament that should provide a range of opportunities to tag and release fish, I’m sure we will get valuable information on the behavior of newly released billfish,” Marshall said.
Marshall explained Crittercams can record for different periods of time and are designed for the safety of the species being researched. “The cameras can stay as long as we determine and record at various intervals of time,” said Marshall.
“Once the predetermined time of recording is reached, the camera will release from the fish without hurting it, it will then rise to the sea surface and emit a signal similar to a beacon (a light signal to locate remote objects). The research team will then use various means to locate these cameras from boats, helicopters or even leave them floating until they reach the coast or nearest place,” said Marshall.
Polo said NGS is expecting to achieve a high quality documentary since “we are joining forces with a group of local producers and filmmakers. This is a great opportunity to showcase the beauty of Puerto Rico and one of its precious resources: marine life,” said Polo.
NGS’s core team traveling to Puerto Rico is composed of (1) Greg Marshall, (2) Kyler Abernathy, Director of Research – Remote Imaging, (3) Sam Friederichs, marine biologist and consultant who has collaborated in designing the Crittercam for billfish, and (4) Jean-Paul Polo.
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