Thick fog obscures all but the lower towers of the Claiborne Pell Bridge as Al Eagles throttles down the Catherine Ann and drifts up to one of his pink buoys on this August morning.
He's about to do what he's been doing since he was 10 years old: pull on a line until a lobster trap sitting on the bottom is up on the gunwale with the day's catch. Over the years, Eagles, 63, has gone from a 14-foot skiff and hand-hauled single wooden traps he fished as a boy to a 43-foot boat with a motorized winch to bring aboard sets of 20 plastic pots strung along trawl lines.
All in all, however, the technology hasn't changed a great deal, which is why it's curious to see Eagles pull out a tablet computer and digital calipers when deck hand Mark Clarke places the twitching lobsters out on a table to be measured.
Soon he is pressing buttons to enter information about each lobster he examines, even the ones he throws overboard because they're below the minimum legal size. He records the size and gender of each one, while the tablet, aided by GPS, automatically notes the exact location and depth of the catch.
"I'm sort of computer illiterate," Eagles readily admits. "I just started using a tablet just weeks before this started."
It's all in the name of science ... and hopefully bountiful catches in the future.
Eagles is among a dozen New England fishermen who are voluntarily participating in a lobster survey begun by the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation. The nonprofit group, based in Kingston and founded in 2004 by commercial fishermen, promotes a collaborative approach to fisheries research that involves fishermen.
Read the full story at the Providence Journal>>