Flesh-Eating Bacteria in Long Island Sound

This summer an extraordinarily high number of flesh-eating bacteria cases occurred in Connecticut. Let me put it into perspective for you.  In the past decade only seven cases have been diagnosed in the state.  This summer five cases were reported in a two month span. That’s crazy bad. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about already.

All of these five cases likely occurred from contact with the water in Long Island Sound. Now before you freak out, flesh-eating bacteria cases are still exceedingly rare. Your chances of contracting this evilness are very, very low. But folks with compromised immune systems or advanced age must take care. People who have liver disease or take medicine that lowers the body’s ability to fight germs are also at risk.  And everyone with an open cut on their body should take care as well. Here are a few valuable tips.

  • If you have a wound (including from a recent surgery, piercing, or tattoo), stay out of saltwater or brackish water, if possible. This includes wading at the beach.
  • Cover your wound with a waterproof bandage if it could come into contact with saltwater, brackish water, or raw or undercooked seafood and its juices. This contact can happen during everyday activities, such as swimming, fishing, or walking on the beach. 
  • Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water after they have contact with saltwater, brackish water, raw seafood, or its juices.

Symptoms of flesh-eating bacteria (Vibrio Vulnificus) requires immediate attention. Time is of the essences. My friend this business can kill you. Signs and symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus infection can include:

  • Watery diarrhea, often accompanied by stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever
  • For bloodstream infection: fever, chills, dangerously low blood pressure, and blistering skin lesions
  • For wound infection, which may spread to the rest of the body: fever, redness, pain, swelling, warmth, discoloration, and discharge (leaking fluids).

Vibrio tends to live in warm salt or brackish waters. Its presence in Florida is one of the reasons I moved back north last year. Declining water quality was on the rise including red tide, blue-green algae and flesh-eating bacteria. And near where I lived in Florida two cases of Vibrio were reported in one summer, both resulting in leg amputations. And get this: a man to the north of me died from eating raw oysters!  Yes you can get Vibrio from raw seafood.  Prior to these events I waded wet when fishing. After these events I worn waders much of time and always if I had a scratch or cut on my leg. Stay safe.

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The False Albacore are Here

Finally autumn is here and the false albacore are around. Last year they made a very poor showing in Long Island Sound. And there has been considerable concern all summer that might be the case again this year. Well amigo things are looking good. Keep your fingers crossed.

“Albie” from a my Drift boat

The false albacore is like a career criminal; it lives under several aliases. The correct common name is Little Tunny. But you will also hear this amazing fish called an “albie”,  an “albacore”, a fat albert”, a “spotted tunny”, a “football”, a “hardtail”, or a “little tuna”. And get this in Florida is known as a “bonito”, which it is definitely not. How’s that list? For you scientific types the little tunny’s latin name  is Euthynnus alletteratus. It is a member of the mackerel tribe like all tuna and bonito.

Typical Coloration

The “albie” is both a bluewater and a green water fish – successfully operating both well offshore and in nearshore waters. It is never an ambush style predator. So don’t expect it to be patiently hiding behind a rock waiting to pounce like a striped bass. Rather it lives a blitzkrieg style live, attacking bait at flank speed in broad daylight. Lacking a swim bladder, it can’t simple hover at the surface feeding like say a bluefish. The “albie” is always in motion, often erupting on the surface and then diving only to resurface seconds later.

Release Method

In the pound-for-pound wars,  the “albie” is the clearly the strongest fish in Northeast nearshore waters. It will not jump, but it can race off like a rocket peeling line off your reel at an alarming rate, and then duke it out deep in a powerful prolonged battle. Many a rod and many a line has been broken. Yet for all its power, we must handle the “albie” with care. The correct release method is to drop it back in the water straight down, forcing water through its gills. To learn more read this article I wrote many moons ago.  Amazing Albies: 

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The Fish are Moving

The Fish are Moving:

Starting to get some reports that the fish are on the move. Hallelujah.  My friend Ted caught an nice albie on a fly over at Point Judith. His friend Jerry Wade did as well. Both of them were out with well-known Captain Ray Stachelek. Ray charters in Narragansett Bay, around Block Island and in Rhode Island Sound.

Ted with an Albie

My son reports schoolie striped bass whacking bait up inside the Connecticut River near Middletown. Not big bass but fun on a light fly rod. This is yet another sign, autumn has arrived and the fish are feeding. Get ready to rock and roll!

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Timber Rattlesnakes in Connecticut

Timber Rattlesnakes in Connecticut,

Timber Rattlesnakes in Connecticut

Been awhile since I did a post on these critters. In fact it was ten years ago. No I didn’t come across another one, but I did see a sign that reminded me of their presence. As you might imagine their numbers are declining. They are rare in Connecticut. And the decline is  largely due to interaction with people.

At one point in time these snakes were found in 20 Connecticut towns; that’s been cut in half. In part because we are encroaching on their habitat. Timber rattlesnakes like lush, wooded hillsides, the kind of place expensive homes are often built to catch a view. And I bet you know what happens next. Harm, in one fashion or another, comes to the snakes.

Remember that timber rattlesnakes are going to do all they can to avoid you. Yes they prefer to retreat. So if see one, or even a snake you can’t identify, slowly back off. Give it a chance to escape. Don’t try to catch, kill, or handle it.  Let it live.

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Seal Problems on the Pacific coast

Seal Problems on the Pacific coast

A few posts back I briefly brought up the subject of wildlife management. Wildlife management is a contract between society and wildlife to find an reasonable balance. And in many cases it works well, but all wildlife management has to be adaptive. Which is to say adjustments must be made to reflect changes in wildlife populations. For example this happens regularly in fisheries management. If a species is experiencing decline, fishing regulations are tighten to help that species recover.


All of this came up concerning the seal population explosion along Northeast Atlantic  beaches. And how this explosion has indirectly caused human fatalities by attracting great white sharks nearshore. Ironically the Pacific coast has experience a somewhat similar situation for years. No, not human fatalities. In this cases the large number of seals has nearly destroyed salmon runs in some location. Exactly what to do about this issue has been kicked around for year. Hell they even made decoy Orcas made to scare the seals off. No dice. Recently, however, the Pacific Fisheries Management folks are finally taking action, but allowing a culling of the seal population. This type of wildlife management adjustment is much need on our coast as well. Let’s hope it takes place.


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