Family Fun Fest at Biscayne Bay National Park
The Billfish Foundation (TBF) is always looking for new avenues to engage the public on its programs, especially young people. TBF had a unique opportunity to educate over 400 children and adults about the Tag & Release program during Biscayne Bay National Park’s Family Fun Fest on February 8th. The event gave TBF a venue to show how citizen sciencedrives the program and contributes to science and conservation.
At the TBF station, participants learned about billfish through photos and larval fish samples. Following a brief discussion on the importance of the tagging program for billfish conservation, they were armed with a Billfish Foundation tag card and they went out “fishing” (wandering) through the park in search of “billfish”. When they encountered a “billfish” (a person with a special t-shirt, a flag, GPS unit), they were able to “catch” the fish by interviewing it: what kind of fish are you, how much do you weigh, how long are you, what is your tag number and what is your current GPS location? Participants recorded all of this data on the Tag card and returned to the TBF station where the data was processed and plotted on Google Earth. Participants saw exactly on the map where their “fish” was caught, as well as all previous locations where that same fish was caught. The combined data created a map showing how the “fish” moved around the park.
For real world applications, TBF displayed real recapture tracks, even some from Biscayne Bay, showing how far these fish can travel and grow. The public was amazed to learn about billfish, the program, and that they now know more about these biologically and economically important fish for south Florida. To learn more about TBF’s education programs or to have TBF come to an event please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.