Rock the Ocean and TBF Tagging Trip

Rock the Ocean Team Joins TBF!

In April, TBF was fortunate enough to spend a day offshore with Tortuga Music Festival’s Rock the Ocean (RTO) team. To say it was a success would be an understatement, as we spent an incredible day offshore, fished aboard the Princess Lily, caught some fish, and successfully tagged an Atlantic sailfish.

To start, this day was made possible by the generosity of Mike and Dawn Samuels and their vessel Princess Lily, a Viking 66’. They had an all-star crew to assist with the day, and we at TBF are grateful for their kindness and hospitality!

Fishing at sunrise aboard Princess Lily

For those unaware, RTO hosts the annual Tortuga Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As the first major music festival to ban plastic water bottles, Tortuga is continually demonstrating how ocean conservation is woven into the fabric of the event. Each year, the festival finds new and innovative methods to reduce their footprint, promote sustainability, and guarantee the beach is left cleaner than when they arrived. Additionally, to help spread the message of ocean conservation and science, they host a Conservation Village where dozens of local organizations can attend and promote their mission and message. This is where TBF comes into the picture!

As a long-time attendee of Tortuga’s Conservation Village, TBF has seen their efforts firsthand and has witnessed the evolution of the festival into what it is today. RTO has allowed so many organizations to raise awareness of their causes, in addition to donating a portion of their proceeds to said organizations. Inviting RTO to see TBF’s mission of billfish conservation and science firsthand was just one way we could extend our gratitude. Plus, after an exhausting couple of months prepping and planning for a music festival, a relaxing day offshore is never the worst thing!

So once Princess Lily was loaded up and the fishing gear prepped, the boat made its way offshore. With a number of the RTO team having never been billfishing before (or even on a boat before), the goal was to highlight the importance of responsible fishing and safe release, while emphasizing the need for tagging and data collection in terms of fisheries management and research. With sailfish season winding down in South Florida, there was a concern about the overall bite, but with four kites in the air and decades of experience among the captain and crew, our minds were put to ease pretty quickly! Once the infamous, “fish on!” was heard throughout the vessel, the team sprang into action.

Laurann Osborne, the Operations Manager for RTO, had made a casual reference to having never caught a fish before, so you can imagine who was first up! Within minutes, Laurann’s Atlantic sailfish was brought boatside, and a TBF tag was successfully deployed. Top it off with a safe release, and the entire experience was textbook. Not only did Laurann successfully reel in her first fish, but she can now say her first one was a sailfish! That sailfish tag was added to TBF’s database of more than 280,000 records, with Laurann marked as the official angler! The RTO team officially named the sailfish, Billie Eifish and we at TBF could not be more on board with the name choice.

Rock the Ocean and TBF Tagging TripThroughout the rest of the day, a number of sailfish would take the bite, and a couple smaller tunas were even added to the mix (all safely released). Both TBF and RTO had an amazing day offshore and it truly was a testament to all who were involved. It was a day filled with excitement and sun, and most importantly a shared passion for conserving our oceanic resources.

TBF wants to thank everyone who made this trip possible. This was another testimony to our community and the partnerships we’ve established along the way. We will continue to support RTO throughout their journey and hope to see everyone next year at Tortuga’s 2025 Conservation Village!