Please forgive my absolutely terrible puns in the title. For our second week on the Harbor, Team Claudia spent two days at Castle Island and one day on a Harbor tour. Unfortunately, we had to leave Castle Island early on both days, but in our time there we still got to fish, set crab traps, make some scientific drawings, and get food from Sullivan's (would highly recommend their lobster rolls). We spent most of our time fishing off of the pier facing the airport. Our fishing attempts weren't very successful; we only caught a piece of kelp and a spider crab and our lines got stuck in seaweed beds every five minutes. But we were able to cast our crab trap under the pier, so we caught plenty of green crabs and even a few fish. My favorite part of the week had to be the Harbor tour though. We spent three hours riding through the Harbor learning about the islands and Boston's history. I may have gotten very badly sunburned, but it was worth it.
We didn't see much marine life on the Harbor tour, but we caught a good amount at Castle Island despite our rods getting caught. The creature we caught the most of were green crabs (scientific name Carcinus maenus). Fun fact about green crabs: they're actually an invasive species! The full name of the green crab is the European green crab, so you can probably guess where they're originally from (spoiler alert: it's Europe). Nowadays, they can be found in New England and the West Coast as well. Green crabs are shore crabs, meaning they live on beaches or marshes, which would explain why we've seen so many of them (it's also probably because female crabs can produce up to 200,000 eggs every year). The largest green crabs have a shell width of 4 inches, but younger and female crabs are slightly smaller. Their diet includes clams, mussels, snails, worms, and even other crabs, which is not great for New England's fishing industries and endangers the biodiversity of native species. The best thing that can be done for conservation in terms of the green crab is controlling its population so that native species can thrive.
We also brought up a few fish in our crab trap, and though we aren't 100% sure what kind they were, we suspect that they might be sea wrasses. The common types of wrasse in New England are cunners and tautogs. It's likely that the ones we caught were cunners, which grow up to 10 inches long, rather than tautogs, which can grow up to 3 feet and probably wouldn't fit in our trap. Cunners live along the coastline from Newfoundland (in Canada) down to New Jersey and are often found near piers and docks like the one we were fishing off of. They're omnivores, so they'll eat almost anything they can find, from shrimp and crabs to other fish to eelgrass. Fun fact #2: cunners hibernate during the winter! As for conservation, cunners are not endangered and not caught for food. We kept the ones we caught in a bucket of water for five minutes before releasing them right back into the Harbor. To keep the cunners safe and not endangered, we just need to leave them be or catch and release.
Peace out y'all :)