At Florida Sea Base, Scouts are helping ocean wildlife, one dolphinfish at a time

Group photo of dolphinfish program at Sea Base

On land or on the sea, if you want something done, call the Scouts.

Scouts at the Florida Sea Base’s Brinton Environmental Center are being recognized by a national nonprofit for their best-in-class efforts to tag dolphinfish, also known as mahi-mahi.

Beyond Our Shores Inc. presented the Scouts of Sea Base with the 2019 Dolphinfish Research Program Award in the category of “Youth Tagging.”

Over the course of the summer, Scouts tagged and released 154 dolphinfish and recorded their data in the Beyond Our Shores database.

The tagging project is the epitome of a symbiotic relationship. The nonprofit gets vital data for tracking dolphinfish migration routes and growth patterns. And the Scouts get hands-on, meaningful experience in marine science.

“Sea Base is extremely proud of our team at the Brinton Environmental Center for their dedication to program, conservation, research and sustainability,” says Tim Stanfill, Sea Base’s director of program operations.

Why dolphinfish?

Dolphinfish are an important food source for many marine fish and mammals, says Michael Timm, national assistant director of STEM programs at the Brinton Environmental Center.

“Also, they contribute to a significant recreational fishery from the Caribbean to the mid-Atlantic region,” Timm says.

That makes tracking dolphinfish movement and growth extremely important. Dolphinfish are some of the fastest-growing fish in the ocean with some growing 2 to 4 inches per month.

Some dolphinfish that the Scouts caught and tagged at under 20 inches grew to 28 inches or more just two months later. If someone catches a fish that’s already tagged, they’re encouraged to report the tag number, GPS location and other vital info on the Beyond Our Shores website.

Scouts quickly and carefully tag the dolphinfish before returning them to the ocean.

What the Scouts did

The Scouts received free tags from Beyond Our Shores. Each plastic tag has its own unique alphanumeric ID number.

Participants in the Out Island, Marine STEM Adventure, Keys Adventure and Fishing Adventure programs were instructed on the proper tagging procedure.

When they caught a dolphinfish, the Scouts worked quickly to tag the fish in the muscle tissue on its dorsal side, measure it for size and record the boat’s GPS location.

Once they returned to land, the Scouts reported the data into the Beyond Our Shores database.

“The dolphinfish research program is a perfect fit for Sea Base adventures and participants,” Stanfill says. “Through associations such as this, and others, Sea Base adds to the breadth and excitement of its adventures.”

Have your Scouts completed any in-the-field research?

This story got me thinking. Scouts are some of the most prolific users of public lands and waters. Projects like the one above and this one at Northern Tier show that these Scouts can be prolific scientists, too.

Have your Scouts or Venturers completed any such research projects? Let me know in the comments.

About Bryan Wendell 3032 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.