Interns from The Billfish Foundation spent Thursday morning at South Broward High School with a group of incoming freshmen who are part of the marine magnet program.
These students have a particular interest in marine education, from boat mechanic training to fish conservation, and sat ready with notebooks to absorb all information. A few were tricked with the first question of what is a billfish–ballyhoo and swordfish were mistakenly identified. But a quick biology lesson cleared up the confusion of distinguishing billfish, and opened the door to conversation about their importance, both in the ecosystem and to the economies of many countries. Reasons for the need of conservation were explained, primarily the threat of bycatch by longlining operations. Several conservation measures specific to the United States were brought up, including the Billfish Conservation Act, and regulations for commercial as well as recreational anglers.
Then TBF’s work was introduced, first with information about the global tagging program and what information can be yielded, then ongoing research was discussed with the students. Our interns specifically described their research projects: one regarding management of fish aggregating devices in the Caribbean, and the other focused on informing the public of sustainable seafood choices.
A number of questions followed the presentation, ranging from battery life of the satellite tags used on billfish, to the use of sailfish sails, to whether or not billfish have predators. All in all the incoming freshmen were very engaged with the material, and extracted as much information as possible about billfish and TBF’s work.