Monday, November 30, 2009

Playin' With Our Food... and Fun

This weekend we started experimenting with Sturgeon again... This time of year is a good time for Science Projects - especially when fishing. The colder water usually makes for slower fishing, so having experiements and science to keep the kids interested always helps.

Plus it is fun. You might recall all the chemistry we did last winter and spring with fizzing sturgeon bombs... we're still working on those, but also want to learn more about the Ampullae of Lorenzini on the noses of these fish... and how to exploit them to the benefit of our freezer.

We've used video cameras in the deep to see what Sturgeon and Salmon are seeing, and below 30' deep, they aren't seeing much. Sturgeon eyes are very basic, light sensing devices that see little detail and mostly help navigate a dark world. The nose sensors and 'wiskers' must be doing more...

There is some very interesting reading in the library and web about these Ampullae - alot of research has been done on paddlefish in the midwest. Also some work on Sharks.

Paddlefish have the most Ampullae, followed by Sturgeon. Sharks come in third.

Having lots of teeth means you don't need as many sensors?


Last few years they've discovered that Sharks are very sensitive to magnetic fields - especially strong ones from rare-earth magnets.

Some folks are trying to make magnetic 'barriers' to protect people from sharks.

They are also trying to find ways to save sharks from biting hooks and becoming by-catch.

Mmmm... looks tasty!

Besides magnets, we are also interested in seeing whatother baits can be effective for sturgeon.

Our favorites have been Smelt and Anchovies, but we also use Sand Shrimp, herring, squid, clams, and hot dogs.

Most research indicates Sturgeon eat alot of tubiflex worms... but try finding those in a store!

When snooping around for info about fish-n-magnets, we heard about this "Mako Magnet". Sounds pretty popular for shark fishermen, but it is actually a SOUND device - a speaker in the water putting out sound (vibration) of injured baitfish.

So, we're going to see what sturgeon think of sound.

The vibration idea is another we've been playing with for a while... but mostly using electrical devices and piezo-speakers underwater.

We are going to try some mechanical devices this year - with no electrical voltages to "muddy" the experimental waters.

We have noticed that live Sand Shrimp attract more attention (in terms of biting) than frozen ones - one thought is the "clicking" noises. Crabs seem attracted to the 'noise' of other crabs feeding, so we'll see.

This is a reported photo of a Mako attacking the "Mako Magnet".

Scary, but in a good way.

Vibration is linked in the scientific research to how the fish - especially the primative ones - feed and sense their world.

Finally, we'll do some experiments with voltages. The Ampullae are very sensitive to electrical fields, and we will see if we can "turn it on" for fishing.

Not a new idea for fishing - ProTroll has been using it for a while, and we have a "Black Box" that came with the boat when we bought it.

Never used the black box yet, but this winter may give opportunity.

Here is a simple device we will use also to try different voltage levels near out bait, to see if the fish have a preference.
The small resistors (with colored stripes) will be used to create different voltages from the battery, and we'll encase the battery to minimize its voltage in the water.
We're also going to make a "fluttering" voltage using a small microcontroller - so the voltages will randomly turn on/off and make an electrical "vibration" in the water... maybe like an injured baitfish?

Then again, maybe we'll be catching fish and never get around to all these experiments. We also hope to go back to the hatchery and play with their captive fish again like we did with the fizzy bombs. Its easier to watch the fish reactions on camera that way.
Lots of fun ideas to try. Hopefully the Winter Steelhead Fishing is so good we never get around to these, but they are waiting in the boat to try, and we'll post any new things we find... maybe!