I’ve always been interested in the ocean ever since I was little around 2009 I was working on some projects and did some research on the islands fisheries trying to figure out you know what what fisheries we have and which is the highest fishery in terms of volume and value and slowly realizing that the conch fishery was the islands biggest fishery and having no idea that that was even a fishery here sort of blew my mind. Our fisheries right now are sort of in a difficult state especially on the island Different stocks have declined there’s a lot of pressures that have changed what we can and what we do fish for Trying to learn more about the biology of the conch or channeled whelk I soon realized that there’s hardly anything and most of what was present was done in the 40s. This is our largest fishery and we hardly know anything about them so how do we know if the regulations that are in place are actually there doing their job? Yeah, we set it on Thursday Without knowing anything you can’t really learn if the fisheries doing well or not. The fishermen are the ones that know the most – they’ve seen the changes already over these years. Learning from them and their experiences had really been critical. They want things to be sustained. They don’t want to be the ones that have fished it out. Working together on that common line has been important. I think even the fishermen are excited every time they call up a pot. It never really grows old because you never know what you’re going to find. On my camera on the trap there’s a temperature sensor. There’s also a light sensor so I can record the light intensity. I’m trying to figure out just some key things like growth rate, movement behavior early life history, reproduction. There’s just so many holes in there biology. From the behavioural footage with the conch cam It’s interesting. You you’ll see them coming to the pot sometimes I’ll catch many hunks during the day other times, it’ll be at night Sometimes they’ll be really active inside the track, other times they’ll just sit and not move not even have any interest in the bait – so trying to figure out if that correlates with the time, tide, current will sort of be the next step in analyzing the data in order to learn more about their movements I’m using telemetry – so I have acoustic receivers that I have position inside and outside of Tashmoo And then I have five tagged welch with acoustic tags and they’re epoxied onto the shell. Wherever they are within the pond, these receivers will be able to hear the pain coming from the acoustic tag And I’ll be able to see movement. One of the other projects I’ve been working on is a growth rate project so trying to learn how fast the juvenile whelks are growing and to do that I’ve tagged I think now over 13-thousand with small shellfish tags Any time the fisherman catches one of my tagged conchs they’ll either save it in a bucket and bring it in and I’ll come and meet them and measure it or they’ll record the measurement themselves Getting sort of an average growth rate how long it takes for a small sub-legal whelk to become legal. Also how long it would take a small juvenile to reach sexual maturity is of interest and importance in the fishery and can help when the state is setting management regulations To learn more about fecundity or reproduction, I collected 25 larger females from fishermen here and brought them up to the lab in New Hampshire and placed each female into its own individual tank compartment and fed them as many blue mussels as they wanted and just sort of monitored them with the hope that they would lay eggs stream so I could connect that egg stream with that female and be able to measure the egg string record how many embryos the size and see how it correlated with the female shell size. Two of the females took 13 days and one took 11 days. They don’t feed they don’t move they just focus on producing this egg string and um the time and energy involved is pretty spectacular After they laid the egg strings I then placed them into another tank and hatched out the juveniles so that’s been sort of interesting trying to figure out how many hatch out of an egg string alive and the timing of all that. It’s been wonderful this sort of spy in on the underwater world day and night through this little camera, just knowing that such a small window of what’s really happening. I’d be very happy if this fishery was still operating twenty years from now and people were able to make a living and the welch populations were flourishing. Fishing is still viable and they’re still sustainable ways of doing it. I want this fishery to continue I don’t want this to be the last fishery we have. The research I’ve collected now is just sort of laying the foundation to figure out ways to do it better and more sustainably That’s the goal – keeping it going for years to come.