Talk to describe sea’s ‘gentle giants’

Researchers inspect an ocean sunfish carcass on Lieutenant's Island in Wellfleet. Researchers inspect an ocean sunfish carcass on Lieutenant's Island in Wellfleet.

Researchers inspect an ocean sunfish carcass on Lieutenant's Island in Wellfleet.

Researchers inspect an ocean sunfish carcass on Lieutenant’s Island in Wellfleet.

Those “gentle giants” that sometimes wash up on these shores will be the topic when the Paskamansett Bird Club holds its next monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m., at the Allens Neck Friends Meetinghouse, 739 Horseneck Road, South Dartmouth.

Carol “Krill” Carson will describe these little known creatures that feed in the cold waters off New England each summer and fall. Often seen off Sakonnet Point and west end of Buzzards Bay, the ocean sunfish — the heaviest bony fish in the world — loves to eat gelatinous creatures, including jellyfish and ctenophores.

The basking shark, the world’s second largest fish, keeps its mouth wide agape to filter plankton, not people, out of the water. These fish are found here, yet few are familiar with them.

Ms. Carson will talk about how to help biologists learn more about these fish by reporting sightings to the New England Basking Shark and Ocean Sunfish Project (NEBShark), a community-sighting network sponsored by the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA). Sightings of these animals, alive or dead, can help scientists better understand and protect them.

Ms. Carson is a marine biologist who has studied whales, sea turtles, ocean sunfish, basking sharks and other marine animals off Cape Cod since 1980. She is president of the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (www.necwa.org) and the Outreach Education Coordinator for Captain John Boats out of Plymouth. She is also a senior visiting lecturer at Bridgewater State University.

The meeting is free, open to the public, and accessible.

 

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