Lady Lisa works the Atlantic from Cape Canaveral to Cape Hatteras, NC
Beachgoers were captivated by what appeared to be a shrimp trawler meandering close to shore along St. Augustine Beach last week. But this was no ordinary shrimp trawler, nor indeed a “shrimp”.
The vessel in question was the Lady Lisa, a former 75ft shrimper, and now a research vessel, which has appeared for more than three decades in local waters – usually twice a year.
Although it appears to have breached offshore limits, the rule does not apply to the Lady Lisa, which was built in St. Augustine in 1980 by St. Augustine Trawlers Inc.
Around Anastasia Island:The shrimp boat Lady Lisa continues its mission
Research vessel:Lady Lisa skirting the shores
Studying marine life:The research vessel Lady Lisa returns to study local fish
Upon completion, she was repositioned to Bennett’s Point, South Carolina, which became the trawler’s home port. But it was not the shrimp business that its owners had in mind. According to newspaper reports, on November 26, 1980, U.S. Customs officers and members of the Colleton County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Department investigated a call about drug-related activity at the site.
Officers found bales of marijuana on nearby concrete and on treadmills. Prominently attached to the balls were tags reading “Lady Lisa”. All seven crew on board were later read their Miranda rights and placed under arrest.
The Lady Lisa was confiscated, and in 1986 joined the cooperative effort to facilitate the collection, management, and dissemination of fishery-independent data in southeastern U.S. waters. . It has become the primary sampling platform for several state and federal projects, working near Atlantic coastal waters between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and Cape Canaveral, Florida.
But Lady Lisa may have seen better days, according to Pearse Webster, chief scientist of the South Atlantic Coastal Survey Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program.
“She has been an excellent platform for our investigation for over three decades. But, recognizing that she is showing her age, the State of South Carolina has begun allocating funds for her future replacement. We are early in this process so I don’t have a detailed timeline for you,” Webster emailed from the ship.
“But – enjoy your glimpses of Lady Lisa while you can, as she may only be working in St. Augustine, in her current capacity, a few more times,” he warned.
In its 2022 budget, the State of South Carolina, in its research vessel replacement process, requested the sum of $1,207,000 to replace the R/V Lady Lisa.
The application states that “the R/V Lady Lisa has been regularly serviced during the 30+ years that she has been in the service of the SCDNR; however, her hull, subhull spars, and other critical ship support systems are failing after being well beyond her lifespan. Failure to replace this vessel will jeopardize or halt the operation of several federal and state mandated programs. »
Learn more about the ship
The Lady Lisa is powered by a 12-cylinder 415 HP Caterpillar engine and is capable of towing two 80-foot trawls. It has accommodation for three crew members and eight scientists. The research vessel is maintained by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The vessel provides well-equipped platforms to perform scientific sampling, fisheries monitoring and education by numerous agencies, colleges and universities across the country in addition to ongoing work at MNR.
The scope of work carried out on board includes research on aquatic turtles, as well as monitoring the status and trends of a variety of coastal species in the southeast. A number of federal and state permits are maintained in order to conduct the operations. Trawl tows are limited in duration to 20 minutes of bottom time, which limits the amount of catch and reduces the possibility of the tow harming sea turtles. The priority species harvested are those of interest to commercial or recreational fishing such as spot, croaker, Spanish and king mackerel, plaice, bluefish, acoupa, penaeid shrimp (white, brown, pink) and blue crabs. They also include sharks, sea turtles and horseshoe crabs.
On his last visit, Webster reported that the catches were relatively light, “but not alarmingly so, for the spring.
“The Atlantic Bumper was a major part of the hold between Canaveral and just south of St. Augustine. But, as we approached St. Augustine, the prevalence of the bumper was down and the croaker and the Atlantic spot took the lead, which is not unusual for us to see,” noted Webster.
“We picked up at least a few white shrimp on almost every trail and it seemed like their abundance was generally a bit higher north of Ocean Trace Road. But only one trait very close to this area stood out as it was about 75% shrimp. Not a big catch, but a nice sight for anyone inclined to spend their time on a shrimp trawler, and a contrast to the other catches that day.
What will happen to the R/V Lady Lisa when it is retired/replaced? Here’s a thought: Maybe she should/could be taken back to St. Augustine, her “birthplace”, where her story can continue in a permanent exhibit on the history of offshore shrimp fishing of Saint Augustine.
SACA back in business
South Anastasia Civic Association SACA, the South Anastasia Communities Association dedicated to environmental and quality of life issues along the southern coast of St. Johns County, is back on track after delays and cancellations caused by restrictions COVID-19, according to its president Keto Burns.
SACA is back to host meetings at the University of Florida’s Whitney Lab at Marineland, followed by community topics that range from local candidate forums to the impact of sea-level rise to through local fishing councils and round tables.
It’s not all work and no fun for SACA as the organization meets once or twice a year at Genungs Fish Camp on the Matanzas River at sunset for oysters, clam chowder, music and renewed camaraderie.
In addition to Burns, the board includes Vice President Amy Lohman, Secretary Charles Delony, Treasurer Dennis Chipman, and General Council members Patrick Hamilton, George Jacunski, Penelope McCormick, Jan Corcoran, Maureen Welch, Ann Taylor .
Anyone interested in joining SACA can call 904-471-0753 or email [email protected] For more information, call Burns at 904-315-8194.
The local organization Sons and Daughters of Italy recently awarded scholarships to four local high school students (May 14). The students, all of Italian descent, include Dylan Pece from St. Augustine High School, Skyler Green from Bartram Trail High School, Marisa Costello from Bartram Trail High School and Anderson Davis from St. Augustine. The awards dinner was held at Jubilee Hall at St. Anastasia Catholic Church located on Anastasia Island. Group president Steve Melnick said more than $3,500 in scholarships were awarded this year. For information about joining the organization, contact Melnick at 904-377-7089 or email [email protected]
Concerts by the sea
The free Wednesday night concert series at St. Augustine Beach Pier Park, sponsored by the St. Augustine Civic Association, continues through June, takes July, and resumes with concerts August 1 through August 21. september.
Remaining artists include: June 8, Josh Stewart Band; June 15, is not too proud; June 22, Paul Lundgren Band; June 29, slang.
The schedules for both sessions are available on freebeachconcerts.com. Concerts start at 7 p.m. Spectators should bring a chair, blanket or towel to sit on. You can bring your own food and drinks. Optional food purchases will be available from one of the Village Garden food trucks with different menus at each concert. For updates, visit sabca.org.