- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Longtime residents of this area will have no difficulty remembering when Ocean City was touted as the “White Marlin Capital of the World” many years ago.

Although there are still occasional catches of these small members of the marlin family in waters east of the resort city, there’s no comparison to the 1960s and 1970s. Ocean City hardly can be called the capital of any marlin - capital of curly fries on the boardwalk maybe but not marlin.

Part of the decline is that the white marlin - along with blue, striped and black marlin and sailfish - is a highly desired food item. This is particularly true in Latin American and Pacific Rim countries, but it also increasingly happens in the United States. The Billfish Foundation, International Game Fish Association and National Coalition for Marine Conservation have united in a campaign to stop eating marlin.

Using the slogan “Take Marlin Off the Menu,” the coalition reminds us that billfish populations are being decimated through commercial overharvesting around the world. Jason Schratwieser of the IGFA said the goal is to persuade restaurants across the United States and Canada to take marlin dishes off their menus for good, pointing out that commercial overfishing in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans accounts for more than 90 percent of annual marlin mortality.

If you need additional persuasion, remember that because marlins are large fish that require a long time to mature, they often contain higher levels of mercury than other marine species.

What a buck- Virginia’s Brandon Green shot a 23-point, 182-pound whitetail buck near Mount Jackson during the state’s ongoing deer season. Fred Frenzel, a wildlife biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said Green’s buck, which sported a irregularly shaped set of antlers, was rare.

The biologist said he had never seen a whitetail buck with such an antler rack other than in special hunting shows.

Feed your wild birds -From the Virginia wildlife people comes a great recipe for songbirds and other feathered visitors to your backyard, a window feeder arrangement, a fence post that contains food or a large pine cone filled with the following goodies.

In a large bowl, stir together one part flour, three parts yellow cornmeal, one part birdseed, a handful of raisins and some shelled peanuts. Add one part lard or peanut butter and stir until the mixture holds together in one big ball. Do not use shortening.

This mixture can attract nuthatches, chickadees, tufted titmice, brown creepers, woodpeckers, mockingbirds and even bluebirds.

Subway cars become reefs - The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative, which includes the Ocean City Reef Foundation, Ocean City and the New York City Transit Authority, announced that 40 retired New York subway cars were dropped into the Atlantic Ocean 10 miles east of the resort city.

The drop was made in an offshore location known as the Bassgrounds. Eventually, this artificial reef will attract baitfish and crustaceans; it then will become a favorite hangout for bottom-dwelling species like sea bass and tautogs.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected] Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be seen on www.washingtontimes.com/sports.

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