Thursday, June 30, 2011

Plankton Species Makes First Known Migration From Pacific To Atlantic Via Pole

Underwater Times: Plankton Species Makes First Known Migration From Pacific To Atlantic Via Pole
OOSTENDE, Belgium -- Some 800,000 years ago – about the time early human tribes were learning to make fire – a tiny species of plankton called Neodenticula seminae went extinct in the North Atlantic.

Today, that microscopic plant has become an Atlantic resident again, having drifted from the Pacific through the Arctic Ocean thanks to dramatically reduced polar ice, scientists report.

The melting Arctic has opened a Northwest Passage across the Pole for the tiny algae. And while it's a food source, it isn't being welcomed back by experts, who say any changes at the base of the marine food web could, like an earthquake, shake or even topple the pillars of existing Atlantic ocean life.

The discovery represents "the first evidence of a trans-Arctic migration in modern times" related to plankton, according to the UK-based Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science, whose researchers warn that "such a geographical shift could transform the biodiversity and functioning of the Arctic and North Atlantic marine ecosystems."

The tiny marine plant's migration parallels, near the extreme opposite end of the ecological weigh scale, the arrival last year of a Pacific gray whale spotted off the coasts of Spain and Israel, a species that vanished from the Atlantic three centuries ago, likely because of over-hunting. Scientists believe the ice-reduced Arctic allowed the whale to cross into the North Atlantic, from where it wandered its way to the Mediterranean Sea.

These are among a number of reports about the marine life upheaval underway in the North Atlantic due to climate change, findings being captured and cataloged by project CLAMER, a collaboration of 17 marine institutes in 10 European countries.

The project is synthesizing the results of almost 300 EU-funded climate change-related research projects over 13 years in Europe's oceans and near-shore waters, as well as the Mediterranean, Baltic and Black Seas.

"The migrations are an example of how changing climate conditions cause species to move or change their behavior, leading to shifts in ecosystems that are clearly visible today," says Carlo Heip, Director General of the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, which leads the CLAMER project.

The Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) is documenting the change in plankton through the Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey, the longest and most geographically extensive marine biological survey in the world.

SAHFOS scientists say that, in addition to the return of Neodenticula seminae, populations of tiny animals called copepods are changing too, threatening the food supply of fish such as cod, herring and mackerel, as well the many marine mammals that, in turn, prey on fish.

As the waters of the Atlantic and the North Sea warm, a valuable member of the copepod family known as Calanus finmarchicus, a rich and crucial source of oil, is being replaced by varieties that are smaller and less nutritious.

The consequences are already evident. The changes in plankton life have "been related to the collapse of some fish stocks" as well as declines in fish-eating North Sea birds, the researchers report. Harbour porpoises migrated from the northern North Sea when sand eels, a mainstay of their diet, moved poleward with the nutritious copepods.

Overall, studies show that re-arrangements of marine life composition is likely to be mixed – some species could, in fact, thrive and parts of the ocean gain in biodiversity and productivity.

"But most of the impacts are so clearly negative, and the scope of change so potentially huge that, taken together, they constitute brightly flashing warning signals," says Dr. Heip.

Other findings from the project:

A form of phytoplankton, known as dinoflagellates, is rising in abundance and moving steadily eastward across the Atlantic toward Scandinavia. Many dinoflagellates are harmful because their bloom and death absorbs dissolved oxygen in the water, which affects other marine creatures. Some also produce toxic compounds that make shellfish flesh poisonous to humans and other organisms. Researchers believe the marine conditions forecast due to climate change favour their growth.

Jellyfish are increasing in the northeast Atlantic, often forming massive blooms. A venomous warm-water species, Pelagia noctiluca, dominates in many areas and outbreaks have become an annual event, forcing the closing of beaches. This form of jellyfish is a gluttonous predator of juvenile fish, so researchers consider its spread a harmful trend. Recently, the highly venomous Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia physalis), a jellyfish-like subtropical creature, were found more regularly in northern Atlantic waters.

Changes in temperature and other conditions mean some prey species are no longer available when their predators need them. Off Northwest Europe, the warming trend has led to earlier spawning of cod, while phytoplankton have kept their traditional biological schedule. The result is a timing mismatch between the cod's larval production and its food supply.

Says the Marine Board of the European Science Foundation: "In the North Sea, seasonal changes in the timing of biological events for plankton as a response to warming are leading to a mismatch between phytoplankton and zooplankton, between zooplankton and fish, between bivalve larvae and shrimp, and between fish and seabirds."

The cod population has plummeted throughout the North Atlantic, largely, so far, due to over-fishing. But a team led by researchers with Norway's Institute of Marine Research warn that cod can't tolerate higher temperatures, and "if warming continues at the rate projected by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it will considerably limit larval cod survival and thereby recruitment, making the reconstitution of the stock difficult." Young cod rely on the copepod Calanus finmarchicus, the migration of which 1,000 kilometres to the north inhibits the cod from re-establishing in the southern North Sea.

Warmer temperatures and stratification of the water are allowing living and dead microscopic organic matter to form massive, mucous-like blobs of marine mucilage in the Mediterranean Sea. This noxious material harbours bacteria and viruses that could kill fish.

In the North Sea, several fish species, including sea bass, mullet, solenette and scaldfish, are moving northward and increasing in numbers as the water warms, according to experts at the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and the Netherlands Institute for Ecology (NIOO).

"The predictions of higher average temperatures and milder winters in the North Sea make it likely that these species will increase further in abundance and move northward," say NIOO scientists. This "will affect the North Sea food web and therefore commercial species by predation on juveniles and competition for food resources."

The impacts of some observed changes remain difficult to assess because the web of life in the oceans, and the forces that shape it, are so complex, and so little is known about them. Some impacts will combine to magnify their effects on ocean life; others might neutralize each other.

In the Baltic Sea, for example, warmer temperatures should improve biodiversity. But the sea is also expected to become less salty, which would reduce the number of fish species.

If, as forecast, sea levels rise, newly flooded coastal areas in Europe will provide more fish habitat. On the other hand, studies suggest a combination of rising temperature and decreasing oxygen could degrade the coastal habitats for bottom-living fish species such as cod and flatfish, particularly in areas that already receive high levels of nutrients. These species will become less abundant if coastal areas experience longer and more frequent periods with low or no oxygen.

Different species will respond in varying ways to a particular change and that, in turn, could alter how they interact with each other.

Fishing, pollution and the erosion of soil and nutrients into the water will combine with the climate impacts. For example, fish harvests rising in tandem with world population reduces the age, size and geographical diversity of fish populations, making them more sensitive to climate stress.

Marine species are tending to migrate toward the poles, but they're doing so at varying speeds, again, making it difficult to predict how they'll interact.

In enclosed seas, species that require cooler conditions might have nowhere to go when the waters warm. Researchers predict that by 2060, as the Mediterranean warms, one-third of its 75 fish species will be threatened and six will be extinct.

On the other hand, in the almost equally enclosed Black Sea, where "new Mediterranean species are arriving and establishing new niches," warming air and seawater are expected to result in increased diversity, with adverse effects limited to declines or loss of a small number of native species, according to Temel Oguz of the Institute of Marine Sciences at Turkey's Middle East Technical University.

Other researchers including Manuel Barange, director of science at the UK's Plymouth Marine Laboratory, point out that linear change isn't likely. Marine life might alter abruptly as new conditions push a species beyond a tipping point. "Gradual changes in future climate may provoke sudden and perhaps unpredictable biological responses as ecosystems shift from one state to another," he says.

Typical of the uncertainty is a study by scientists from the Institute for Marine Resources & Ecosystem Studies, in the Netherlands, which found that warming water led to more species in the North and Celtic Seas, mostly migrants from the south, and, unexpectedly, fewer in the ocean west of Scotland.

This change "will undoubtedly have implications for commercial fisheries and on the implementation of effective conservation and environmental monitoring strategies," they write.

"We need to learn much more about what's happening in Europe's seas, but the signs already point to far more trouble than benefit from climate change," says Dr. Heip.

"Despite the many unknowns, it's obvious that we can expect damaging upheaval as we overturn the workings of a system that's so complex and important."

Project CLAMER concludes with an international conference at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium, Brussels, Sept. 14-15.

Monterey Bay Aquarium's $19M renovation unveiled Monterey Bay Aquarium's $19M renovation unveiled

MONTEREY — When he was 12, future marine biologist Jon Hoech donned a scuba mask, stuck his face in the ocean, and got his first look at a school of fish, performing a majestic underwater choreography — something that only happens in the wild.

Until now.

“The other day, this school of sardines created a ring around the full exhibit,” Hoech said, pointing to the frantic army of 9,000 fish zipping around the 1 million-gallon tank that houses the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s new Open Sea attraction. “We threw krill in the middle and the sardines all fanned toward the center to create this huge, flat pancake. Then they erupted into this big cone. I almost dropped to my knees when I saw that happen.

“It’s a spectacular thing to see in the wild, and it takes the right exhibit and a lot of resources to make it happen in a place like this,” he said. “But we’re going to do it, and it’s going to be very exciting for our guests to see.”

The Open Sea exhibit is the centerpiece of the aquarium’s $19 million renovation, which will debut to the public July 2 (with a sneak preview for members on July 1). The mammoth tank that houses the sardines is also home to many of the sea life that previously were part of the Outer Bay attraction — schools of tuna, mahi-mahi, and a pair of giant, green sea turtles, now believed to be at least 60 years old.

“Repeat visitors will recognize a lot of the old cast, but we’ll be integrating a lot of new animals, too,” said Hoech, director of husbandry for the aquarium. “This will be one of the largest schools of sardines we’ve ever displayed, which pleases me a lot because it’s a magnificent animal that we’ve never really done justice to, displaying them in all of their color and glory and numbers like we’re going to have.”

Inhabitants of The Open Sea will be enhanced by new technology that includes a fresh lighting regime to bring out the natural beauty of the animals, a bubble curtain that not only adds ambiance but helps the animals navigate without encountering the glass barrier and a water-motion device that will create waves that will cause the light waves to dance.

The designs of the new exhibits were the creation of Jaci Tomulonis and Raul Nava, who helped integrate artwork with the exhibits to help inform the public about issues related to ocean health. One piece uses renderings of 270,000 fossilized sharks teeth to convey the number of sharks that are killed each day for their fins. Another turns plastic water bottles retrieved from the ocean into sculptures of various types of kelp.

“It’s unfortunate that many of the animals we’re displaying are at risk because of human activity — overfishing and habitat destruction,” Hoech said. “This will afford our guests an opportunity to learn what they can do to help turn that situation around.”

Aquarium visitors now have the chance for up-close viewing of curious, juvenile, green sea turtles, colorful, playful diving birds (tufted puffins, horned puffins, a pigeon guillemot), and microscopic plankton — the base of all food in the sea — enhanced by a powerful microscope.

In addition, the renovation includes interactive galleries of computer-generated sea life that can be enlarged or rotated at the touch of a finger. The new “Jelly Swarm Alcove” gives visitors a three-dimensional experience that simulates what it might be like to swim with of a school of jellyfish.

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Open Sea exhibit

WHEN: Opens July 2

COST: Aquarium admission is $29.95 per adult, $27.95 for seniors and students, $19.95 for children (ages 3-12) and disabled. Children under 3 are free. Group rates are available with advanced booking.

INFORMATION: Visit or call 648-4800

Conservationists Concerned Lionfish Can't Be Stopped (ABC news): Conservationists Concerned Lionfish Can't Be Stopped
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Conservationists say the lionfish is killing bait fish from Brazil all the way to Maine.

Local conservationist and dive captain Jim Abernathy said the lionfish are supposed to be in the Pacific Ocean, not the Atlantic.

"The problem with the lionfish in this area is that it reproduces so quickly, and it doesn't have enough predators," Abernathy said. "Basically, the lionfish is eating most of the small fish from Brazil all the way up to Maine. There are a lot of different theories on how they got here -- aquariums, hurricane Andrew, filtration systems. Nobody really knows."

Abernathy wants seafood lovers to try the lionfish in hopes it will get more and more of them out of the water.

"Those of us that have eaten lionfish can tell you it’s a delicacy, and we are hoping that more and more divers will be bringing this fish in for sale," Abernathy said.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Modern Fish Communities Live Fast And Die Young

Underwater Times: Modern Fish Communities Live Fast And Die Young; 'Fishing Removes The Slower-Growing, Longer-Lived Species'
NEW YORK, New YOrk -- Fish communities in the 21st Century live fast and die young. That's the main finding of a recent study by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society who compared fish recently caught in coastal Kenya with the bones of fish contained in ancient Swahili refuse heaps in order to understand how to rebuild the current fisheries.

Of course, modern fish communities are not victims of reckless living, but of overfishing which has caused an ecosystem-level transition that may not be easily reversible, according to the study. Over the centuries, human fishing has greatly reduced or eliminated larger and longer-lived species that were more commonly caught in the Middle Ages. The remaining fish communities today contain more species with shorter life spans, faster growth rates, smaller average sizes, and fewer top predators.

The study—which utilized more than 5,475 samples of ancient fish remains dating between 1250 and 600 years before the present (approximately AD 750—1400)—appears in the current online edition of the journal Conservation Biology. The authors are Tim R. McClanahan and Johnstone O. Omukoto of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

"The ancient Swahili middens represent a time capsule of data, containing information on the composition of the region's fish assemblages and how human communities influenced the marine environment," said McClanahan, WCS Senior Conservationist and head of the WCS's coral reef research and conservation program. "The historical data suggest that fishing removes the slower-growing, longer-lived species over time and that marine protected areas are only partially successful in recovering the fish communities of the past."

Seeking to examine how fish populations are impacted by increasing fishing pressure over time, McClanahan and Omukoto compared data on the life histories of modern fish communities (gathered from fish caught in both heavily fished sites and protected closures on the Kenyan coast) with data gathered from fish remains excavated from an ancient Swahili settlement located in Shanga, Kenya. Spanning some 650 years, the refuse heaps provided the researchers with valuable insights into how fish assemblages and fishing pressures changed during that time span.

The researchers discovered that the life histories of fish caught by modern fisheries and the remains of ancient fish assemblages were significantly different. Whereas ancient fish communities had a high percentage of top predators—species that prey on fish and large invertebrates such as snails, sea urchins, and clams—modern fish communities contain more species that feed on plants, small invertebrates like sea lice, generally smaller species that feed lower on the food chain. Modern fish assemblages also contain more species that are smaller in size with higher growth and mortality rates.

The researchers also found that the number of fish bones in the middens peaked between AD 1000-1100 (approximately 1000-900 BP) before declining, while the bones of sheep and goats become more prevalent in the higher levels of substrate, suggesting a shift in human diet to domesticated animals.

"The archeological evidence demonstrates the incredible longevity of humanity's utilization of coastal fisheries, while emphasizing the critical need to actively manage slower growing, longer-lived species within an ecosystem approach," said Dr. Caleb McClennen, Director of WCS's Marine Program. "The evidence from Kenya aligns with findings from around the world that for millennia humanity has relied on the world's oceans for our basic needs—but has more recently failed to do so in a manner that also will sufficiently sustain that resource."

From Fiji to Kenya to Glover's Reef, Dr. McClanahan's research has been examining the ecology, fisheries, climate change effects, and management of coral reefs at key sites throughout the world. This work has been supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and The Tiffany & Co. Foundation.

Enric Sala, James Cameron Named National Geographic's Newest Explorers-In-Residence

Underwater Times: Enric Sala, James Cameron Named National Geographic's Newest Explorers-In-Residence
NEW YORK, New York -- Two outstanding explorers — filmmaker and alternative-energy proponent James Cameron and marine ecologist Enric Sala — are the National Geographic Society's newest Explorers-in-Residence. Both were honored today at a special gathering of National Geographic's top explorers at Society headquarters.

Explorers-in-Residence are some of the world's preeminent explorers and scientists and represent a broad range of science and exploration; they develop programs in their respective areas of study, carrying out field work supported by the Society. The group includes a geographer, three paleontologists, an archaeologist, a geneticist, conservationists and leaders in several other disciplines.

As a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Cameron will apply his distinctive storytelling skills and innovative filmmaking technologies to National Geographic Society projects and programs. Sala, formerly a National Geographic Fellow, will continue his leadership of Pristine Seas, an exploration, research and conservation project that aims to find, survey and help protect the last healthy and undisturbed places in the ocean.

"We are thrilled to welcome James Cameron to National Geographic's cadre of explorers and to elevate Enric Sala's important work on ocean conservation," said Terry Garcia, National Geographic executive vice president for Mission Programs. "They perfectly round out our very diverse team of explorers."

Cameron has written and directed scores of films, among them "The Terminator," "Aliens," "The Abyss," "Titanic" and "Avatar." His films have blazed new trails in visual effects and have set numerous performance records, both domestically and abroad, including a record-setting 11 Oscars for "Titanic." "Avatar," a 3-D science fiction epic, reflected more than two years in development of new production technologies; it won Golden Globe Awards for best director and best picture and three Academy Awards.

Work on "Avatar" inspired a new mission for Cameron — illuminating the plight of indigenous peoples, especially those involved in struggles over energy issues, some of whom came forward after seeing the film. Since the film's release, Cameron has spent some 18 months in energy battlegrounds — in the Alberta, Canada, tar sands and the Amazon — meeting with indigenous peoples whose environment and way of life are threatened. Cameron also organized a task force of deep-ocean experts to address offshore oil production and ocean engineering issues raised by the 2010 Gulf oil spill. He continues to work in the arena of alternative energy.

Two of Cameron's passions — filmmaking and scuba diving — blend in his work on movies such as "The Abyss" and "Titanic," which took him on 12 manned-submersible dives to the famed shipwreck in the North Atlantic. The technical success of those expeditions led Cameron to form Earthship Productions, which develops films about ocean exploration and conservation. Since then he has investigated and written a marine forensic paper on the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, organized expeditions to deep hydrothermal vent sites along the mid-Atlantic Ridge, the East Pacific Rise and the Guaymas Basin in the Sea of Cortez, and led seven deep-ocean expeditions with 72 deep submersible dives.

Cameron is currently leading a team that is building a unique manned sub capable of diving to the ocean's greatest depths. Next year he plans to pilot the sub to the ocean's deepest point in the Pacific's Mariana Trench, part of a series of dives to the world's deepest places — the Mariana, Kermadec and Tonga trenches.

Also fascinated by outer space, Cameron has worked with scientists and engineers developing "architectures" for human exploration of Mars. He is a co-investigator on the Mars Science Laboratory Mastcam, the "eyes" of the Curiosity rover, which is to explore the Martian surface next year.

Witnessing the harm people do to the ocean led Enric Sala to dedicate his career to working to restore marine life. Sala is a rare scientist who combines research with effective communication to inspire leaders to protect the ocean. One of his goals is to help protect the last pristine marine ecosystems worldwide, using scientific expeditions, media, partnerships with local conservation organizations and high-level discussions with country leaders.

Sala fell in love with the sea while growing up on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. After obtaining a Ph.D. in ecology in 1996 from the University of Aix-Marseille, France, he worked in California for 10 years as a professor at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In 2006 he moved back to Spain to take the first position on marine conservation ecology at Spain's National Council for Scientific Research, and in 2008 he became a Fellow at the National Geographic Society, where he leads the Pristine Seas project.

The Pristine Seas team recently worked with Oceana-Chile and the Chilean government to establish the 15,000-square-kilometer Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park around Salas y Gómez, a small, uninhabited Chilean island in the Pacific Ocean. Working with local and international NGOs, Sala's Pristine Seas project also was instrumental in inspiring the Costa Rican government to create the new 10,000-square-kilometer Seamounts Marine Managed Area around Cocos Island.

Sala is a 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, a 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, a 2007 National Geographic Emerging Explorer and a 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Cameron and Sala join 13 other National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence: oceanographer Robert Ballard, anthropologist/ethnobotanist Wade Davis, geographer Jared Diamond, marine biologist Sylvia Earle, conservationist J. Michael Fay, archaeologist Zahi Hawass, filmmakers/conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert, paleontologists Meave and Louise Leakey, anthropologist Johan Reinhard, paleontologist Paul Sereno and geneticist Spencer Wells. The last new Explorers-in-Residence were named in 2005.

The National Geographic Society is one of the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to "increase and diffuse geographic knowledge," the Society's mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 400 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; live events; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,600 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit

Fishy business: Mysterious 55ft ‘sea monster’ washes up in China

Daily Mail: Fishy business: Mysterious 55ft ‘sea monster’ washes up in China

You’d need a big portion of chips to go with this.

A gigantic sea beast measuring 55ft has been discovered washed up on a beach in Guangdong, China.

It was found wrapped in fishing lines, leading locals to suspect that fishermen cut it free from their nets because it was too big to haul in.

Their conclusion is that, based on its throat grooves, the creature is a whale.

Mr Baker told the journal: ‘Judging from the reported size of 55 ft, it’s maybe a fin whale. From the photo, however, it does not really look to be 55 ft, and so might be a smaller balaenopterid, like one of the “Bryde's” whales.’

He added: ‘We all hope somebody collects the bones and a tissue sample for genetic analysis as recovery of whale carcasses is rare along the coast of China.'

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Decade-Long Study Of Pacific Predators Shows Importance Of Biological 'Hotspots'

Underwater Times: Decade-Long Study Of Pacific Predators Shows Importance Of Biological 'Hotspots'
NEWPORT, Oregon -- An unprecedented decade-long study of apex predators in the Pacific Ocean found a wider range of distribution among some species than previously thought, unknown relationships between other species, and the importance of biological "hotspots" to the survival of most of these sea creatures.

The field program, dubbed Tagging of Pacific Predators – or TOPP – looked at 23 species from 2000-09 and included researchers from multiple institutions.

Results of the study are being published this week in the journal Nature.

"One thing that quickly became apparent is that there are many similarities among top predators in the California Current System," said Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and co-author on the study. "There is a strong overlap in territory, for example, between blue whales and tuna. Blue whales eat krill; the tuna eat fish that eat the krill.

"But the krill, and the ocean conditions that promote its abundance, are key to both species," added Mate, who directed the cetacean portion of the TOPP study. "When there are hotspots of krill or other food, the apex predators need to find them."

Most of these hotspots result from upwelling, or the fertilization of surface waters with nutrient-rich deeper water as a result of wind-driven mixing. One such biological hotspot occurs just west of Santa Barbara, Calif., where the wind comes around Point Conception and triggers strong upwelling.

"When the winds there died, we watched whales eat literally all of the available food in three days, and then they just took off," Mate said. "Most of them moved to the Farallon Islands near San Francisco, which is another productive feeding area. Blue whales likely know these hotspots from experience. Instead of waiting for upwelling to renew the krill population, they'll travel 400 miles in three days to find a new food source."

The study also found, however, that some species have more difficulty with poor ocean productivity, as often happens during El Niño events. Coastal birds also depend on krill, and during an El Niño in 2006-07, most of their hatchlings failed, the researchers noted.

Pinnipeds – including seals and seal lions – normally experience a successful birth rate of 80 percent, but in El Nino years, that drops to 20 percent. "Most of the offspring die," Mate said, "because the mothers cannot produce enough milk."

The TOPP study was the first ocean basin-scale study of marine predator distribution and movement ever conducted, and the massive amount of data collected will help resource managers develop effective ocean protection strategies, the researchers say.

The study underscores the importance of apex predators in different ecosystems, noting how the loss of bluefin tuna and porbeagle sharks in the Atlantic Ocean contributed to the near-extinction of cod and similar species.

Mate, a pioneer in the use of satellites to track endangered whales and other species, has been studying blue whales for decades and has been featured in the National Geographic Magazine and the National Geographic Channel film, "Kingdom of the Blue Whale." Most of that documentary was shot aboard OSU's research vessel Pacific Storm, which tracked blue whales tagged off California in the fall to their first-ever discovered winter breeding and calving area 500 miles off Costa Rica in an upwelling area.

Blue whales may be unique among large whales in using areas for reproduction where they can continue to feed. Interestingly, the whales do not have just one route for this migration but instead use a variety of offshore routes and variable timing.

Adult blue whales can grow to the length of a basketball court and weigh as much as 25 large elephants combined. A blue whale's mouth could hold 100 people, Mate said, though its diet is primarily one-and-a half-inch long krill. The heart of a blue whale is the size of a small automobile. Scientists say the blue whale is the largest creature to ever inhabit the Earth – and it is one of the loudest animals in the sea, capable of making sounds equivalent to those of a jet engine, though at frequencies below human hearing.

Mate and his colleagues also tracked a fin whale for more than a year as part of the TOPP research.

"It did nothing that we expected," he said with a laugh. "Usually, we think large whale species go south for the winter and north in the summer, but this whale spent its winter in the Gulf of Alaska and didn't go south until spring when it went as far south as the tip of Baja, but returned back to the Gulf of Alaska without stopping anywhere. In total, the whale made four trips through a 30-kilometer wide area off Vancouver Island, suggesting a preference for a very precise corridor.

"It's hard to generalize about whale behavior with a small sample size," Mate said. "But that's the value of tracking animals over the years through efforts like the TOPP program. We learn about patterns and variability – and inevitably, we learn something we never knew before and often times it is really fundamentally different that what we thought we would find."

Among the Pacific Ocean predators tracked by researchers in addition to whales and tuna were several species of sharks, leatherback sea turtles, two species of albatross, sooty shearwaters, Northern elephant seals and California sea lions.

Teeming With Life, Pacific's California Current Likened To Africa's Serengeti Plain

UnderwaterTimes: Teeming With Life, Pacific's California Current Likened To Africa's Serengeti Plain
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Like the vast African plains, two huge expanses of the North Pacific Ocean are major corridors of life, attracting an array of marine predators in predictable seasonal patterns, according to final results from the Census of Marine Life Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) project published today in the journal Nature.

The paper culminates the TOPP program's decade-long effort to track top marine predator movements in the Pacific Ocean. It presents for the first time the results for all 23 tagged species and reveals how migrations and habitat preferences overlap -- a remarkable picture of critical marine life pathways and habitats.

The study found that major hot spots for large marine predators are the California Current, which flows south along the US west coast, and a trans-oceanic migration highway called the North Pacific Transition Zone, which connects the western and eastern Pacific on the boundary between cold sub-arctic water and warmer subtropical water -- about halfway between Hawaii and Alaska.

"These are the oceanic areas where food is most abundant, and it's driven by high primary productivity at the base of the food chain -- these areas are the savanna grasslands of the sea," say co-authors and project originators Barbara Block of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station and Daniel Costa, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

"Knowing where and when species overlap is valuable information for efforts to manage and protect critical species and ecosystems."

Drs. Costa and Block were joined by Steven Bograd of the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Randy Kochevar of Stanford University and others to launch the project in 2000 as part of the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year research initiative that investigated the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life in the global ocean. TOPP became the world's largest-ever biologging study, eventually involving more than 75 biologists, oceanographers, engineers and computer scientists across five countries.

Says Dr. Block: "It's been a bit like looking down on the African savanna and trying to figure out: Where are the watering holes that a zebra and a cheetah might use? Where are the fertile valleys? Where are the deserts that animals avoid, and the migratory corridors that animals such as wildebeest use to travel from place to place? We've come to a vast oceanic realm in the Pacific and answered these questions for animals as diverse as bluefin tuna, blue whales and leatherback sea turtles."

"This is the first publication that pulls all of the pieces together in one place," says Dr. Costa, who oversaw the tracking of marine mammals, birds, and turtles. "We brought together a large team of investigators to study diverse species and look at how these organisms use the ocean. It is an unprecedented examination of so many species over such a large scale."

The scientists used a variety of technologies to track the locations of different species as well as environmental variables such as water temperature, salinity, and depth. Altogether, the project deployed 4,306 electronic tags on the 23 species, yielding a huge amount of data for analysis.

Working with Census scientists at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada and its Future of Marine Animal Populations project (FMAP), the scientists spent two years synthesizing data sets with advanced statistical techniques and discerned intersecting hotspots and highways of ocean life and how marine conditions influenced where animals hang out.

"One of the challenges for this study was to take distinctly different types of location data – some very precise from ARGOS satellites and others far less precise from ambient light level readings and bring them together using a powerful statistical framework that enabled identification of high use areas" says Dalhousie's Dr. Ian Jonsen.

The results suggest water temperature is key to the seasonal migrations of many species. This was particularly evident in the large marine ecosystem defined by the California Current, where cool, nutrient-rich water moves south along the US west coast.

The study reveals the Current as a vast marine savanna to and within which a large number of whales, sharks, seals, seabirds, turtles and tunas migrate loyaly every year.

It shows many highly migratory marine species return to the same ocean regions, homing with astonishing fidelity to the places they were first tagged, following a predictable seasonal pattern.

Says Dr. Block: "For me, the homing capacity of species which routinely return to the California Current or shelf waters of North America has been the biggest surprise."

Adds Dr. Costa: "It is akin to a student from London studying in far-off Rome and returning home each summer at the same moment -- but doing it all in the dark, without a map or compass, using only their internal sense of position and direction."

According to the authors, the mechanisms and cues that allow species to home with such fidelity to seasonal pathways are not yet fully understood, "but may represent a capacity to discriminate among areas of seasonal significance for foraging or reproduction."

Some predators, such as California sea lions, spend their whole lives within the California Current, but others migrate vast distances across the Pacific Ocean to reach its abundant prey such as krill, sardines, anchovies, and squid.

"How or why a young bluefin tuna less than two years of age wakes up in the light of the Japan sea and decides to swim to Baja remains completely unknown," says Dr. Block. "Once they get here, tagging data indicate they reside for years, taking advantage of the rich forage off North American coastlines. These tunas become vulnerable to oceanic fisheries across the Pacific during both this highly migratory period and this retentive period lunching on our coast."

The project found several species, including leatherback sea turtles, black-footed albatrosses, sooty shearwaters, bluefin tunas and salmon sharks) migrate more than 2,000 km from the western, central or south Pacific basin to reach the California Current's rich food resources -- a commute equal to that between Seattle and San Diego.

Species making seasonal north–south migrations included bluefin tunas and yellowfin tunas; mako, white and salmon sharks; blue whales; male elephant seals; and leatherback sea turtles.

Other species moved between near-shore and offshore waters, residing within the California Current or the Gulf of Alaska for a while, then migrating to points that ranged into the North Pacific transition zone (female elephant seals, salmon sharks and Laysan albatrosses), the subtropical gyre and north equatorial current (blue and mako sharks and leatherback sea turtles), or the 'café' regions of the eastern Pacific and the Hawaiian Islands (where species like white sharks, albacore tunas, and black-footed albatrosses meet).

Says Dr. Bograd of NOAA: "In the California Current we see a great deal of coastal upwelling, especially during the late spring and summer. This is when cold, nutrient-rich water rises to the ocean surface, causing phytoplankton blooms and creating a rich food source for a variety of ocean animals."

The researchers found that the ocean productivity from upwelling was also associated with the north/south migratory patterns exhibited by several species. For the first time the TOPP team has been able to link the movements of tunas, sharks and blue whales north and south along the southwestern US coastline with seasonal changes in temperature and chlorophyll concentrations.

"Using satellite observations of temperature and chlorophyll concentrations alone, we can now predict when and where individual species are likely to be in a given ocean region and begin to understand factors that control their movements. This is fundamental to the concept of ecosystem-based management," says Dr. Costa.

The researchers also used distinctly different types of tracking data to examine the partitioning of habitats by closely related species. Different tuna species, for example, prefer particular water temperatures, and these preferences correlate with physiological differences between the species.

In addition to developing new tracking technologies and techniques, the researchers had to manage large datasets and synthesize different kinds of data for the final analyses.

In addition to Drs. Block, Costa, Bograd and Jonsen, the paper was co-authored by

Arliss Winship, and Greg Breed of Dalhousie University;
Salvador Jorgensen, George Shillinger, James Ganong, Alan Swithenbank, and Mike Castleton of Stanford University;
Scott Shaffer of San Jose State University;
Elliott Hazen, Dave Foley, Heidi Dewar, and Scott Benson of the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center;
Autumn-Lynn Harrison, Michael Weise, and Bill Henry of University of California Santa Cruz; Bruce Mate of Oregon State University; and
Kurt Schaefer of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission.
Says Dr. Block: "We clearly have an amazing African-like game park in our waters off the west coast. It will take enormous vision to protect this wild place. I hope our study stimulates the discussion of how best to do this."

"Without effective management of open ocean realms, the bluefin tuna, leatherback sea turtles, blue whales and white sharks seen in the central and eastern Pacific or off our North American shores in 2011 might not be there for future generations. This work has created an opportunity to protect this marine wilderness and keep North American waters teeming with predators."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dixon Rings: 1940's Technology Could Help Today's Submariners Breathe Easier

Underwater Times: Dixon Rings: 1940's Technology Could Help Today's Submariners Breathe Easier
LONDON, England -- A UK engineering firm is helping to develop a way of keeping the air clean and safe in deep sea submarines.

Croft Engineering Services is working with two of the country's leading universities to help create a chemical-free system of removing carbon dioxide from the air inside underwater capsules.

As people breathe, they exhale carbon dioxide which needs to be taken out of the air when in a sealed space such as a submarine, to ensure inhabitants stay safe and are not poisoned.

At present, chemicals such as calcium hydroxide are used to do this.

But, thanks to exciting research, a smart process is being developed using thousands of tiny pieces of fine wire mesh, called Dixon Rings, supplied by Croft Engineering Services' manufacturing centre, in Warrington.

Neil Burns, partner of Croft Engineering Services, said: "Dixon Rings are based on technology developed in 1948 – due to there size the common 3mm ring has a surface area of 2378m3/m3 which along with there void space of over 90% and HETP as low at 5.88cm they offer the perfect packing for a number of industries including those of submarines in which carbon dioxide can be fatal if left to saturate the air in a submarine.

"Using the rings to take out carbon dioxide from exhaled air is a process that will have many uses and it's a very exciting project to be involved with."

The combination of salt water liquid and the Dixon Rings creates a small 'gas scrubbing unit' that takes out the CO2 and safely discharges it into the sea.

The process of CO2 removal here is know as scrubbing which works by packing thousands of Dixon Rings into a column with gas and liquid flowing counter current to each other.

By developing the technology it is hoped to be able to extend the time submersibles can spend carrying out deep sea work.

The Incredible Undersea Photography of Alexander Semenov

Treehugger: The Incredible Undersea Photography of Alexander Semenov

Blog in Russian:

Alexander Semenov has a wonderful talent for capturing the beauty and grace of tiny sea creatures. A graduate from Lomonosov's Moscow State University in the department of Zoology in 2007, he currently works at White Sea Biological Station (WSBS) where he studies the northern marine environment and writes about the beauty of sea creatures for his blog and scientific papers. Check out some of the incredible images Semenov has captured of alien-like marine animals.

Semenov is chief of the diving team at WSBS. The WSBS is located near the Polar Circle on the coast of Kandalaksha Bay of the White Sea. Semenov notes that, "The WSBS location makes it an ideal place not only to study the northern marine environment for scientists and students from around the globe, but to enjoy the amazing nature, seascapes and sky panoramas... Our station is s wonderful place with its unique atmosphere of science mixed with wild nature."

Semenov admits he has some particular favorites when it comes to underwater creatures, particularly the pteropod mollusks Sea Angels (Clione limacina, shown below) and Sea butterflies (Limacina helicina).

"Also my favorite mollusk is very rare Coryphella polaris, a large nudibranch [sea slug], who live under 30m in the dark and cold water and is so beautiful -- I just don't know any animal better," he states. That rare Coryphella polaris is shown in the lead photo of this interview, and it really is a stunning creature.

Semenov writes a blog in Russian about the stories behind his photos, and also has a portfolio site in English that teaches more about the animals in the photographs, including the life cycle, feeding, behavior and other aspects of their lives.

When asked if Semenov sees any negative impacts of human activity on the ocean when he dives, he states, "In the White Sea there are so many extremal conditions that there are not so many tourists and divers. But sometimes I see some anthropogenic trash at the sea floor. That's bad, but not critical - animals can live on it and in 3-5 years it disappears totally under the biomass. But if there would be any toxic waste, marine life will stop in this location for many years.

"People from all around the globe need to learn how to recycle waste. Our oceans are very big and can contain a lot of trash and waste without any damage, but it's only a question of time when it will become full. It's not a trash can -- it is a place where life was born and everybody needs to understand it."

Semenov's work is incredible, and there is little more important to conservation than showing the beauty of the world and the creatures with whom we share it. See more of his photography on the Behance Network.

Penguin takes wrong turn, ends up in New Zealand

ABCNews: Penguin takes wrong turn, ends up in New Zealand
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (KABC) -- It was a startling sight on a New Zealand beach.

A young Emperor penguin was very far away from home. Apparently he took a wrong turn from the Antarctic and endured a 2,000-mile journey to New Zealand, the first time in 44 years that one of the creatures has been sighted there in the wild.

Christine Wilton was walking her dog on the beach when she first spotted the disoriented penguin Monday evening.

"It was out-of-this-world to see it," Wilton said. "Like someone just dropped it from the sky."

Wilton said the scene on Peka Peka Beach reminded her of the 2006 movie "Happy Feet," in which a young penguin finds himself stranded far from home.

"This one would have been among this year's crop of chicks and usually they stay among the pack ice and feed on fish and squid and krill," said penguin expert Colin Miskelly. "But this one's just kept going north and it's a very long way from its usual range."

Emperors are the tallest and largest species of penguin. They can grow up to 4 feet tall and weigh more than 75 pounds.

Miskelly says the penguin is about 10 months old and healthy with plenty of body fat. It may have been searching for squid and krill when it got lost.

To survive, the penguin will need to find its way back south. The bird is probably hot and thirsty, and it had been eating wet sand.

"It doesn't realize that the sand isn't going to melt inside it," Miskelly said. "They typically eat snow, because it's their only liquid."

However, he said, the bird was in no immediate danger from dehydration because Emperor penguins can also drink salt water in the summer.

Officials plan to let nature take its course. Experts said the bird could live several weeks before needing another meal.

Scott Brown Criticizes NOAA Scott Brown Criticizes NOAA
Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown blasted fishing regulators Monday in a speech at a Senate subcommittee.

According to Brown, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) unfairly victimizes fishermen through its office of law enforcement.

“Many [fishermen] tell me that NOAA regards them as criminals instead of a legitimate and valued regulated industry,” he said. “While I again want to emphasize that our fishing regulations must be enforced, we must not forget that fishing is about catching fish, where 96 percent of violations are civil matters. The tone and the tenor of enforcement must reflect this.”

Brown cited examples of NOAA agents carrying guns and launching investigations as criminal pursuits when the matter essentially involved issuing tickets. He pointed to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has no criminal investigators although the scale of potential disaster is much greater.

The senator also had words for NOAA on its asset forfeiture fund, $40 million of which is still unaccounted for. Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser said the administration now has a successful one-year audit, but Brown remained unimpressed with what he believed to be a low standard.

He wants to create legislation that will return the asset forfeiture fund to the Treasury and force NOAA to undergo a congressional review of its budget.

Wanting to stave off such measures, Zinser recommended an annual report of expenses in order to satisfy critics.

The hearing was attended by 75 people, though NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco was not present.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spinner Sharks

There's video online today about a spinner shark that jumped out of the ocean by some surfers. It's not on youtube, but there are plenty of videos of spinner sharks there.

Spinner sharks are not dangerous to man. Indeed, they are are a threatened species because they are used for shark fin soup. (But apparently unlike other sharks that are thrown back to die after being de-finned, people who catch spinner sharks also use their flesh to eat and their skin to create clothing.

The spinner shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna) is a species of requiem shark, family Carcharhinidae, named for the spinning leaps it makes as a part of its feeding strategy. This species occurs in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide, except for in the eastern Pacific Ocean. It is found from coastal to offshore habitats to a depth of 100 m (330 ft), though it prefers shallow water. The spinner shark resembles a larger version of the blacktip shark (C. limbatus), with a slender body, long snout, and black-marked fins. This species can be distinguished from the blacktip shark by the first dorsal fin, which has a different shape and is placed further back, and by the black tip on the anal fin (in adults only). It attains a maximum length of 3 m (10 ft).

Spinner sharks are swift and gregarious predators that feed on a wide variety of small bony fishes and cephalopods. When feeding on schools of forage fish, they will speed vertically through the school while spinning on their axis, erupting from the water at the end. Like other members of its family, the spinner shark is viviparous, with females bearing litters of 3–20 young every other year. The newborns are born in shallow nursery areas near the coast, and are relatively fast-growing. This species is not usually dangerous to humans but may become belligerent when excited by food. Spinner sharks are valued by commercial fisheries across their range for their meat, fins, liver oil, and skin. They are also esteemed as strong fighters by recreational fishers. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed this species as Near Threatened worldwide and Vulnerable off the southeastern United States.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Oceanography 101: Diversity of Ocean life

First, what is Taxonomy? Wikipedia explains.
(Taxonomy (from Ancient Greek: taxis "arrangement" and Ancient Greek: nomia "method") is the practice and science of classification.

Taxonomy uses taxonomic units, known as taxa (singular taxon). In addition, the word is also used as a count noun: a taxonomy, or taxonomic scheme, is a particular classification ("the taxonomy of ..."), arranged in a hierarchical structure. Typically this is organized by supertype-subtype relationships, also called generalization-specialization relationships, or less formally, parent-child relationships.

In such an inheritance relationship, the subtype by definition has the same properties, behaviors, and constraints as the supertype plus one or more additional properties, behaviors, or constraints. For example: car is a subtype of vehicle, so any car is also a vehicle, but not every vehicle is a car.

Therefore a type needs to satisfy more constraints to be a car than to be a vehicle. Another example: any shirt is also a piece of clothing, but not every piece of clothing is a shirt. Hence, a type must satisfy more parameters to be a shirt than to be a piece of clothing.

Taxonomists divide animals into about 33 major groups, called phyla.

What's phyla? Again from Wikipedia:
In biology, a phylum (English pronunciation: fie-la, plural: phyla) is a taxonomic rank below Kingdom and above Class. "Phylum" is equivalent to the botanical term "division." The kingdom Animalia contains approximately 40 phyla; the kingdom Plantae contains 12 divisions. Current research in phylogenetics is uncovering the relationships between phyla, which are contained in larger "clades", like Ecdysozoa and Embryophyta.

And no, I'm not going to present a definition of "clades". As you can see, oceanography, like any other profession, has a great deal of terminology to learn. I'll talk about "clades" in my next post.

To continue:
Each phylum represents a distict body plan. The difference between phyla is much greater than the difference between species within an individual phylum.

Out of all these phyla, only one has no representatives in the ocean, the little velvet worms called onychphorans.

On the other hand, there are 14 phyla that are only found in the ocean.

The large scale diversity of animals in the oceans far outshines that on land. Even though the number of identified species on land is much higherr than that in the oceans, this number is deceptive, as new ocean organisms continue to be discovered.

For example, in 1988, scientists realized that what had been viewed as just two species of commercially valuable deep-sea crabs was really 18 different species.

Every year brings similar findings. In 2001, a 23-foot long squid unlike any known species was discovered. In 2003, it was Big Red, a bloodred, two- to three-foot long jellyfish with no tentacles. In 2004, a hot-dog sized species of dragonfish was found. This was found on a trip to the relatively well-studied Bear Seamount off New England.

Ocean Science 101 by Jennifer Hoffman

Friday, June 24, 2011

Group calls on Canada to make access to water a right Group calls on Canada to make access to water a right
Governments must create a new set of laws protecting natural ecosystems to effectively enshrine a binding right to water that was recently adopted by the United Nations, says a newly-released policy paper by the Council of Canadians.

The recommendations, authored by Maude Barlow, the national chair of the citizens advocacy group, noted that there is no substitute for water and that it must be protected in law and in practice.

"Freshwater is central to our very existence and must be protected by public trust law for the common good, not for individual profit," said the report, titled Our Right to Water.

"Of course there is an economic dimension to water, but under the public trust, governments are obliged to protect water sources in order to sustain them for the long-term use of the entire population, not just the privileged few."

The report said the next step consists of laws that assign new rights to protect natural ecosystems that have started to emerge in some communities in North America, as well as in countries such as Bolivia and Ecuador.

"In the eyes of most Western law, most of the community of life on Earth remains mere 'property,' and water is increasingly seen as another commodity to be exploited," said the report. "We need to develop laws and practices to protect water, outside its usefulness to humans, and to restore and permanently protect watersheds and water sources."

In an interview, Barlow said it would place new obligations on businesses to act responsibly.

She said the laws should be balanced to allow development that doesn't damage the natural resources which sustain growth.

"That doesn't mean that you can't fish anymore, but it does mean that you can't fish to extinction," she said. "It doesn't mean you couldn't have industry on a body of water, but industry couldn't destroy that body of water."

'Shocking' state of seas threatens mass extinction, say marine experts 'Shocking' state of seas threatens mass extinction, say marine experts
Fish, sharks, whales and other marine species are in imminent danger of an "unprecedented" and catastrophic extinction event at the hands of humankind, and are disappearing at a far faster rate than anyone had predicted, a study of the world's oceans has found.

Mass extinction of species will be "inevitable" if current trends continue, researchers said.

Overfishing, pollution, run-off of fertilisers from farming and the acidification of the seas caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions are combining to put marine creatures in extreme danger, according to the report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (Ipso), prepared at the first international workshop to consider all of the cumulative stresses affecting the oceans at Oxford University.

The international panel of marine experts said there was a "high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history". They said the challenges facing the oceans created "the conditions associated with every previous major extinction of species in Earth's history".

"The findings are shocking," said Alex Rogers, scientific director of Ipso. "As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised. This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children's and generations beyond that."

The flow of soil nutrients into the oceans is creating huge "dead zones", where anoxia - the absence of oxygen - and hypoxia - low oxygen levels - mean fish and other marine life are unable to survive there.

Hypoxia and anoxia, warming and acidification are factors present in every mass extinction event in the oceans over the Earth's history, according to scientific research. About 55m years ago, as much as half of some species of deep-sea creatures were wiped out when atmospheric changes created similar conditions.

In recent years, human effects on the oceans have increased significantly. Overfishing has cut some fish populations by more than 90%. Pollutants, including flame-retardant chemicals and detergents are absorbed into particles of plastic waste in the sea, which are then ingested by marine creatures. Millions of fish, birds and other forms of life are choked or suffer internal ruptures from ingesting plastic waste.

During 1998, record high temperatures wiped out about 16% of the world's tropical coral reefs.

The scientists called on the United Nations and governments to bring in measures to conserve marine ecosystems. Dan Laffoley, of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, said: "The world's leading experts on oceans are surprised by the rate and magnitude of changes we are seeing. The challenges for the future of the oceans are vast, but unlike previous generations we know what now needs to happen. The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now, today and urgent".

Scientist Discover Landscape Of Fear Visible From Space

Underwater Times: Scientist Discover Landscape Of Fear Visible From Space; Fish And Urchin Grazing Halos Confirmed With Google Earth

Sydney Australia -- While most of us could find no better use for Google Earth than checking out a holiday destination, scientists in Sydney have shown it can reveal a lot about the behavior of marine life on the Great Barrier Reef.

In what is believed to be the first research of its kind, University of Technology, Sydney marine biologist Dr Elizabeth Madin and colleagues - including Dr Joshua Madin of Macquarie University and Professor David Booth from UTS - have used Google Earth satellite images to observe the indirect effects of behavioral interactions between predators and prey in the lagoon habitat at Heron Island.

The results, published in the paper "Landscape of fear visible from space" in the first issue of the journal Nature Scientific Reports, have revealed distinct patterns of grazing halos - rings of bare sand devoid of seaweed - within the algal beds surrounding isolated groups of coral.

Grazing halos have been attributed by previous researchers to fish and/or urchin herbivory (seaweed feeding). These creatures are thought to shelter from predators within reefs and then make foraging expeditions radiating outwards.

In-situ lagoon surveys showed that algal canopy height increased with distance from reef edges and grazing experiments confirmed that herbivore grazing was responsible for these patterns.

The work indicates that herbivores' collective anti-predator behavioral patterns can shape vegetation distributions that are clearly visible from space.

"To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has used freely-available Google Earth images to identify these features, and then actually tested them on the ground to confirm that we're seeing exactly what we think we're seeing from the satellite images," Dr Elizabeth Madin said.

"This is significant because it could potentially lead to the development of a conservation tool which is both rapid and inexpensive. For example, by comparing sequential Google Earth images over time, the cascading, indirect effects of predator removal - say through fishing or the establishment of a protected reserve - could be monitored nearly anywhere on Earth."

The research was funded by the US National Science Foundation and the Australian Research Council.

The paper can be viewed at:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Queensland marine rescue boat strikes whale

AdelaideNow: Queensland marine rescue boat strikes whale
VOLUNTEER marine rescue boat has collided with a whale off the Brisbane coast, suffering extensive damage and injuring two crew members.

The incident occurred around 6pm (AEST) yesterday near Stradbroke Island.

Marine Rescue Queensland vice-president Tony Hawkins said the incident happened after the 10-metre catamaran was called out to assist a vessel.

"It has come off a wave and as it came down a whale has come up from underneath it," Mr Hawkins said.

"It's the most significant damage I've seen in 30 years and it will cost about $70,000 to $100,000 to repair.

"Luckily no one was tipped out or seriously hurt.

"The safety and integrity of the vessel cannot be questioned after surviving that."

He said one crew member sustained a dislocated shoulder and another crew member sustained a minor facial injury.

The vessel, which is one of three operated by Marine Rescue Queensland at Raby Bay, sustained extensive damage to its hull.

The catamaran travelled in reverse back to base to prevent taking on water and sinking.

"It's the prime vessel of the three as it is fitted out to transfer medical evacuations from Stradbroke Island to the mainland," Mr Hawkins said.

"It transfers on average one patient a day."

A Department of Community Services spokeswoman said paramedics were called at 8.30pm to assist the crew, with one member taken to Redlands Hospital for treatment.

There is no word on the condition of the whale that struck the boat.

The speediest fish on the planet that swim through the ocean at 75mph on the hunt for sardines

DailyMAilOnline: The speediest fish on the planet that swim through the ocean at 75mph on the hunt for sardines
In a fishy recreation of House of the Flying Daggers, these pictures capture the break-neck 75mph speeds of one of the fastest hunts on the planet.

The images, captured by Reinhard Dirscherl, 47, from Germany, freeze in time the amazing techniques used by the planet's most rapid fish.

Atlantic Sailfish, caught on camera by Reinhard in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, can be seen in large groups darting in and out of schools of favourite prey sardines.

He said: 'When the sailfish hunt the sardines, the sardines panic. 'The sardines will use any means they can to hide, and the only barrier they could create between them and the sailfish was me.

'Sometimes they surrounded me completely and the Sailfishes circled around.
'Fortunately they wouldn't attack while I was there as they were wary of me. If they did then the sword on their nose could do a lot of damage. 'It was a fantastic experience for me.'

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How large can lobsters grow? Big! But no one knows how big

Christian Science Monitor: How large can lobsters grow? Big! But no one knows how big
With New England diving into lobster season, seafood lovers across the country will don their bibs, grab some lemon wedges, and dine on nice one-pound crustaceans.

Most lobsters in supermarkets and restaurants fall in the one- to two-pound range. American law requires fishermen to toss back anything smaller. But lobsters can get bigger – much bigger.

In 2006, a diver caught a 12-pound, 20-inch lobster off the coast of San Diego. In 2008, a Canadian crew snagged a 20-pounder. Yet both of those were pipsqueaks compared with the late king of crustaceans. The Guinness World Record went to a 44.3-pound lobster found in 1977 near Nova Scotia. Guinness didn't note its length, but the US Navy once measured a similarly hefty lobster at four feet long.

IN PICTURES: The 20 weirdest fish in the ocean

These clawed colossi aren't freaks or flukes, explains Jelle Atema, a professor of biology at Boston University. They're just very old.

Lobsters, he says, seem to never stop growing. Their crustacean cousins, crabs, reach a point at which the carapace (the outer shell) simply will not grow any larger. But nature never hemmed in lobsters.

"They keep on growing," says Dr. Atema. "You can end up with very, very large lobsters."

How large? Scientists have no idea.

Any lobster that found its way to a dinner plate legally needs to have a carapace of about three inches or longer. Critters that length are often a little heavier than one pound and between 5 and 7 years old.

Twenty- to 40-pound catches could easily be more than 50 years old.

But here's what really confounds scientists: Those ancient lobsters don't show any signs of aging.

They do not slow down. They do not grow weaker. They do not become infertile. In fact, lobsters are actually more fertile in their old age.

This doesn't mean that lobsters live forever. Some wander into human traps. Some starve. Some become meals for seal or cod. But if you kept them healthy, safe, and happy, "lobsters can potentially get to be 100 years old," says Atema. "Whether they actually do, we don't know."

And we won't know for decades. Researchers have started counting lobster birthdays, but, Atema says, "we've never done it to a point where we can say 'oh yeah, here's an 85-year-old lobster.' "

"If my grandson was interested, I could encourage him to do that," he says with a laugh. "Or pass it on down through generations."

At this point, scientists know that lobsters grow faster in warmer water and where temperatures remain constant throughout the year, such as in laboratory tanks or in deep waters miles from the coast. For example, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute reports that lobsters raised in 70-degree water can plump up to one pound in less than two years – about three times faster than in the cold Atlantic.

As lobsters bulk up, they regularly outgrow their shells. Once a waistline feels a little snug, a lobster will shed its carapace, pump itself full of water to a larger size, then harden the outside into a new shell. (This is where soft-shell lobsters come from. They're lobsters caught during this molting period.)

Humans and snakes also shed their skin over time, but their skeletons eventually stop growing. Since lobsters don't have bones, only this outer armor, they can shed and grow indefinitely – hence four-foot leviathans.

These regenerating shells add further mystique to the ageless lobster. With young lobsters molting every few months and adults shedding about once a year, Atema says, "it looks as though they are brand-new again and that they haven't aged, which many people would be jealous of."

But age is important, he says. The laws against catching small lobsters keeps humans from overharvesting. Six years gives the crustaceans enough time to reproduce at least once and possibly twice.

The law "has become very effective at maintaining a lobster population," he says. "There are more lobsters living in Maine, it's estimated, than ever before in the history of lobsters." (Other factors play into this prosperity, such as humans fishing predatory cod.)

Since lobsters grow more fertile with age, Maine also bars fishermen from catching elder lobsters – anything with a carapace longer than five inches. With such protections, who knows what might be out there, growing in a deep-sea cave for the past 100 years?

Mystery surrounds dugong deaths

Bendigo Advertiser: Mystery surrounds dugong deaths

The state government has established a scientific panel to investigate the mysterious deaths of dugongs, dolphins and turtles off the central Queensland coast.

The bloodied carcasses of two male dugongs washed up on the bank of Seven Mile Creek in Gladstone last week, following the mysterious death of two dolphins on Boyne and Turtle Islands last month.

In April, 22 dead turtles were found washed up at the mouth of the Boyne River.

It is not known if the dugongs suffered heavy lacerations on their body before or after their deaths.

Environment Minister Kate Jones said a panel of marine science experts would now work with the Department of Environment and Resource Management to determine the cause of death.

“There have been two dugongs and three dolphins found in waters and on beaches in the area since the start of May," she said.

“I take any death of a marine animal seriously, and as minister for the environment I want to understand the causes behind these casualties.

“The scientific panel will bring the best minds around a table to look at all the evidence and provide the best advice to government and the community on these particular cases.”

The Department of Environment and Resource Management said the animals appeared to have been in good health prior to their deaths and pollution was not believed to have been a factor in their deaths, although the department is awaiting pathology reports to confirm this.

The local community has raised about increasing shipping activity in Gladstone Harbour, as the Gladstone Ports Corporation works towards becoming one of the world's major liquid natural gas exporters.

Ms Jones conceded that the dolphins and dugongs most likely died after being struck by a boat or caught in commercial fishing nets.

“We will not pre-empt the advice of the scientific panel in relation to the recent dugong and dolphin deaths near Gladstone, but I will not hesitate to act on their advice once it is provided," she said.

The dugong population off the central Queensland coast also has been under heightened stress, due to the depletion of their main food source seagrass, as a result of the washout from the summer floods.

Fisherman banned from using white bread Fisherman banned from using white bread

British fishery has banned its anglers from using white bread.

The venue in Hampshire, England is believed to be the first one in the country to have stopped fisherman from using the foodstuff as bait, because experts have revelealed it makes fish fat, bloated and lethargic.

But Graham Mabey, whose company FLE Angling own Greenridge Farm Fishery near Romsey, defended the decision and urged anglers to use brown bread.

He said: "There is not much nutritional content in the white bread compared to the brown.

"The salt and sugar levels in white and brown loaves are similar but in a typical white sliced loaf there is 3.5 grams of protein per slice compared to the 5.6 grams in brown bread.

"People leave whole discarded slices floating on the water as well as on the banks which can attract rats."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Landmark Report Investigates Environmental Impacts Of Aquaculture

Underwater Times: Landmark Report Investigates Environmental Impacts Of Aquaculture
BANGKOK, Thailand -- A new and comprehensive analysis released by WorldFish Center and Conservation International (CI) has investigated the environmental impact of the world's major aquaculture production systems and species, and today offers a first-ever global assessment of trends and impacts of cultivated seafood. The analysis has found that, from the 75 species-production systems reviewed, more production means more ecological impact, but that compared to other forms of animal protein production such as livestock, aquaculture is more efficient.

The report, "Blue Frontiers: Managing the environmental costs of aquaculture (pdf - 41MB)", along with a companion policy recommendations paper, is being released in Bangkok, Thailand at the ASEAN SEAFDEC Conference (Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center) on "Sustainable Fisheries for Food Security Towards 2020". It concludes that the demand for aquaculture products will continue to grow over the next two decades as a key source of animal protein for growing urban populations, and that the industry needs to meet this demand with improved efficiencies and reduced environmental impacts.

Among the landmark report's major findings are two key highlights: (1) the environmental impact of aquaculture varies dramatically by country, region, production system and species , and (2) a review of published information found that aquaculture is more efficient and less damaging to the environment, compared to other animal protein production systems such as beef and pork, and likely to be among the most important sources of protein for human health and nutrition in growing urban populations in many parts of the developing world. Meaning — there is great room for improvement, by identifying and sharing best practices, increasing investment in innovation, and strengthening policies and regulations.

Driving the scientists' research was the recognition of aquaculture as one of the fastest growing food production sectors in the world: it has grown at an average annual rate of 8.4 percent since 1970 and total production reached 65.8 million tonnes in 2008 according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Today, aquaculture is a US $100+ billion industry that now provides more than half of all seafood consumed in the world, surpassing wild-caught seafood.

Using all available data from 2008, the study compared aquaculture's global demands across a wide variety of species groups (13), geographies (18 countries), feed types (5) and numerous production systems in use today, allowing scientists to compare and contrast 75 different types of species-production systems, to determine their environmental impacts on acidification, climate change, energy demand, land-use demand, and other ecological factors.

Following almost two years of data gathering and analysis, researchers found that:

China and the rest of Asia collectively supply an overwhelming majority of the world's cultivated seafood, at 91 percent of global supply. China alone accounts for 64 percent of global production.
On the other end of the supply chain, Europe produces 4.4 percent, South America produces 2.7 percent, North America produces 1.9 percent, and Africa produces 1.6 percent (*see representative map in related image gallery)
Most popular aquaculture by country: carp tops the list for China and the rest of Asia; salmon is number one for Europe and Latin America, finfish (tilapias) rank highest in African aquaculture
Aquaculture with the highest environmental impact include: eel, salmon, and shrimps & prawns, due to significant energy and fish feeds required for production; these represent greatest opportunities for improvement
Aquaculture with the lowest/least environmental impact include: bivalves (mussels and oysters), mollusks, seaweed (those toward the bottom of the food chain; don't require additional feed)
Efficiency of salmon production methods: while salmon production trends toward the high end of the environmental impact scale due to the use of wildfish for feed, production methods in northern Europe, Canada and Chile were found to be more efficient than those in China and other Asian countries (in terms of acidification, climate change, energy demand and land occupation)
Efficiency of shrimp and prawn production methods: cultivation in China was found to be much less efficient than other producer countries (e.g. Thailand) in terms of acidification, climate change and energy demand
Aquaculture vs. wild-caught fisheries: aquaculture today accounts for a significant majority of all consumed seaweeds (99 percent), carps (90 percent), and salmon (73 percent), and also delivers half (50 percent) of the total global supply of tilapia, catfish, mollusks, crabs and lobsters.

"This report offers the most comprehensive analysis of global aquaculture ever undertaken, and illustrates the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead," said Dr. Stephen Hall, lead author of the report and Director General of the WorldFish Center. "As the report points out, there must be a wider exchange of knowledge and technology, with policies and action to promote sustainability and investment in research to fill the knowledge gaps. These efforts can lead to a more ecologically sustainable industry — an important goal, if we are to meet the world's future needs and demands for fish."

With the growing demand for animal source proteins, the study also shows that aquaculture is a highly efficient food production system and has clear environmental benefits over other forms of animal food production.
Aquaculture products contribute less per unit weight to global emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus than pork and beef, which reduces eutrophication and contributes less to ocean 'dead zones'

Fish, as compared to either pork or beef, convert a higher percentage of the food they eat into consumable protein, resulting in less waste

Looking toward the future of seafood cultivation, "Blue Frontiers" projects that global aquaculture production will continue to grow at current rates, with conservative estimates of 65-85 million tones produced in 2020, and 79-110 million tones by 2030. By comparison, 69 million tonnes of cultivated seafood were produced in 2008.

"China, India and the rest of Asia with their growing middle classes are where we can expect demand for fish to rise most significantly" said co-author Mike Phillips, a senior scientist at WorldFish. "Current trends indicate that the majority of the increase in global production will come from South and Southeast Asia, with a continued drive by major producer counties such as China and Vietnam towards export to European and North American markets."

How this rise in production will be achieved in an environmentally sustainable manner raises important issues, said Dr. Sebastian Troëng, CI's Vice President for Marine Conservation. "There are a number of well-founded concerns about aquaculture, in terms of its impacts on marine ecosystems and wild fisheries. But with global fisheries reaching alarming and unprecedented levels of depletion, fish cultivation versus wild fish capture has to be considered. We believe that intensified investment in innovation and the sharing of best practices will help us meet the growing demand while not putting unacceptable strain on coastal and freshwater environments."

CI's Executive Director for Indonesia Ketut Putra, who's attending talks in Bangkok, added, "With governments in the region looking to aquaculture to meet demand for animal protein, we need to better understand the environmental costs of expanding aquaculture. This report will be tremendously helpful in showing us which species and production systems we should favor to keep environmental costs down."

The report offers multiple recommendations to policy makers, development and environmental organizations, and industry professionals in a companion policy paper. They include: supporting innovation in the aquaculture sector; ensuring the regulatory environment keeps pace and supports environmental considerations in aquaculture development; developing the necessary capacity in national agencies, and careful monitoring of the sector so that support and investment are appropriate to the market opportunities are core recommendations that apply globally but will have regional differences in their relative importance.

Radioactive whales caught Radioactive whales caught
Radioactive caesium was detected from two minke whales caught off a city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, 650 kilometres north-east of a damaged nuclear plant, a news report said Tuesday.

Researchers examined six of the 17 whales during so-called research whaling in Kushiro city, which started this year's season in late April, and they detected 31 becquerels and 24.3 becquerels of radioactive caesium per kilogram in the two whales out of the six, Kyodo News reported citing a whalers' association said.

While the level of the radioactive substances remained below the limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram, the association officials told a news conference in the city that the contamination must have been caused by the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Kyodo reported.

Since the plant was damaged by a magnitude-9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, it has leaked radioactive substances into the environment.

In 1987, Japan halted commercial whaling, complying with an international moratorium that went into effect in 1986. Japan, however, has used a loophole in the accord to continue whaling under the premise of conducting scientific research. Critics accuse the country of doing it for money.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Japan launches research whaling in the NW Pacific

Taipei Times: Japan launches research whaling in the NW Pacific
Japan sent a whaling fleet to the northwest Pacific for what it called a research hunt yesterday, four months after cutting short a similar mission in the Antarctic due to obstruction by activists.

The three-vessel fleet, led by the Nisshin Maru, plans to catch 260 whales including 100 minkes until late August to study their stomach contents, DNA and other information, according to the Institute of Cetacean Research.

The government-affiliated institute has organized such operations since 1987, citing a clause in a 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling that allows hunts for scientific research.

Anti-whaling nations and environmentalist groups condemn the activity as a cover for commercial whaling, but Japan said it is necessary to substantiate its claim that there is a robust whale population in the world.

The institute said the mission would be its 18th scientific expedition to the northwest Pacific.

On Feb. 18, Japan halted a research hunt in the Antarctic Ocean for the 2010-2011 season, which had been due to run from December until March, because of obstruction by militant environmentalist group Sea Shepherd.

The US-based Sea Shepherd, which says its tactics are non--violent but aggressive, hurled paint and stink bombs at whaling ships, snared their propellers with rope, and moved its own boats between the harpoon ships and their prey.

Japan’s four-ship fleet killed 172 whales in that season, only about one-fifth of its target, the fisheries agency said at that time.

Australia — which last year launched legal action against Japan’s whaling program at the International Court of Justice — and New Zealand said they hoped Japan had given up whaling for good.

The institute told Japanese media that there has been no instance of obstructive activities in the northwest Pacific so far, but that “we cannot automatically consider the area safe.”

Sophisticated Sea Shepherd bluefin tuna protection Sophisticated Sea Shepherd bluefin tuna protection
By Don Melvin

The helicopter lifted gingerly off the aft deck of the ship, banked sharply, then sped off a few hundred feet above the Mediterranean whitecaps in search of boats fishing illegally for bluefin tuna - potential targets for activists determined to do what they can to preserve the species.

The helicopter returned nearly two hours later, however, with no new targets to report - having scouted, among other things, an EU fisheries inspection vessel, a pleasure craft with picnickers, and a vast empty sea near the border between Libya and Egypt.

But the chopper - an MD550E, a civilian version of a helicopter designed for scouting missions in Vietnam - is evidence of the increasing sophistication of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

These are not wild-eyed radicals putting to sea in any old rustbucket. The group's current campaign, which it calls Blue Rage 2011, uses two ships and a number of small launches, sophisticated radar and communications equipment - and the helicopter, flown by former commercial pilot Chris Aultman.

The aim is to try to prevent illegal fishing for bluefin tuna. The stock of the fish has dwindled to the point that experts fear its collapse. If the group finds boats it feels it can prove are fishing illegally, it wants to send divers in to cut the nets and free the tuna.

But the group's methods are controversial. The conservation group Oceana shares Sea Shepherd's assessment of the imminent danger to the bluefin tuna, but is more circumspect in its comments on Sea Shepherd's tactics.

"Although Oceana doesn't have the same practices, we don't oppose those practices," said Maria Jose Cornax, an official with Oceana. "They are contributing to the same goals we are."

But Japanese officials have called Sea Shepherd members terrorists who have endangered lives with their pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet, in which collisions occurred at sea. And, although privately European Union officials welcome the research of this and other non-governmental groups - and credit them with helping awaken public opinion - EU spokesman Oliver Drewes questioned Sea Shepherd's desire to enforce the law itself.

"They are not policemen," Drewes said. "No third party has policing obligations or powers. Every 12-year-old kid knows that."

Brigitte Scheffer, a spokeswoman for Sea Shepherd, said the organisation has never claimed police powers.

"What we are enforcing, if we have any legal standing here, is the UN Charter, where we believe each individual has the right to defend nature and in our case marine wildlife," Scheffer said.

But no one can question the group's increasing sophistication. And part of that is due to the aviation program built up painstakingly over the past few years by Aultman. The helicopter he flies off the back of the Steve Irwin, Sea Shepherd's mother ship in this campaign, is worth about US$850,000 - probably US$1.4 million if it were new.

Scheffer said all the organisation's money comes from donations, large and small. Sea Shepherd has tax-exempt status as a charity in the US.

Aultman, a 41-year-old Georgia native who lives in Santa Monica, became friends with a member of Sea Shepherd's board six years ago. They began diving together. And late in 2005, Aultman said, Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson "told me to find a helicopter and buy it".

It's fast and powerful - a pilot's helicopter, he said - and it skips above the waves at 80 or 90 knots.

Sunday, the first target, which had been spotted on the Steve Irwin's radar, was a vessel that was towing two rings that looked like tuna cages - but there were no nets dangling from the rings. It struck Aultman as peculiar, but if there were no nets, clearly there were no fish.

The second vessel was clearly marked "EU Fishery Inspection" - not illegal fishermen but the police. The third was a trawler, probably bottom-fishing, clearly for something other than tuna.

Feeling that the area was covered by inspectors, and it was more likely to find uninspected boats elsewhere, the chopper headed east toward the Libya-Egypt border, just north of the NATO-enforced no-fly zone. But other than a pleasure craft with picnickers munching happily on the top deck, there was little but empty sea stretching out to the horizons. The whitecaps looked for an instant like boats but then dissolved and disappeared.

To return to the mother ship without running out of fuel, Aultman turned the chopper around.

He had no luck today, but Aultman feels fortunate to have left commercial flying behind and gone full-time with Sea Shepherd.

"I love it," he said. "It's become my life."

New rules may come for U.S. fish farms

The News Tribune: New rules may come for U.S. fish farms

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration released new guidelines that would make it easier to farm fish in federal waters, a move that could transform the nation’s coasts and the food Americans will consume in years to come.

The proposal, which sparked immediate criticism from some environmental groups, aims to increase the amount of farm-raised seafood in the United States by authorizing regional fisheries management councils to approve aquaculture operations off the coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico.

There are no fish farms in federal waters, only in the three-mile band of state waters. Some operators have applied to build fish farms in federal waters in the past, but none have won approval yet.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service officials said new ventures could ease fishing pressures on wild stocks and cut the nation’s seafood imports.

The new policy, released late Thursday, underscores the extent to which the United States and other nations are struggling to find enough seafood to supply their growing populations. Aquaculture – in which operators cultivate creatures including oysters, mussels and algae plus top predators such as salmon – now accounts for roughly half of the fish consumed, as the world’s wild stocks continue to dwindle.

But it also has raised serious environmental questions, which range in scope from whether raising carnivorous fish ends up depleting forage fish stocks to concerns about farmed fish escaping and mixing with wild species.

Michael Rubino, who directs the aquaculture program for NOAA Fisheries, said the rules seek to address the United States’ $9 billion seafood trade deficit. Of those imports, 84 percent are cultivated rather than caught.

Referring to the Agriculture Department’s new dietary guidelines released this month, Rubino said: “USDA is asking us to eat twice as much seafood. Where is that going to come from? ... There aren’t going to be large numbers of fish farms out there anytime soon. But it’s coming.”

The aquaculture guidelines, which have been in the works for a year and a half and will take another year to finalize, greenlight fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. They apply the nation’s traditional fishery management laws – which were originally crafted to set criteria for how much wild fish can be caught in a season – to aquaculture.