Category Archives: Marine Science

Underwater gliders will monitor North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

The newest glider will carry a hydrophone, which can identify the calls of right whales and report their locations,,, “There is no one way to effectively determine where the whales are at any given moment when they are in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” Fred Whoriskey said, “So we need to start blending our approaches.” Aerial surveillance is only good on sunny days with few waves, he said, adding that hydrophones mounted on fixed buoys have their limitations. “This year we are deploying gliders into the shipping channels,” he said. “They go down, listen and detect whale calls and come up to the surface periodically and broadcast information whether there are whales there or not.” >click to read< 11:25

How Might Fish Farms Be Affecting the Lobster? Let us count the ways.

“There is a tremendous amount of waste generated by fish farms,” Milewski says. “I don’t think people have a sense of the scale.” A fairly typical farm of about 600,000 fish will generate around 40 tonnes of waste every month during its 22-month production cycle. “It’s understandable how that waste can change lobsters’ behavior, distribution, and abundance,” she adds. But the review also identified serious gaps in our understanding of the interactions between aquaculture operations and lobsters. While some aspects, such as the use of chemical pesticides, have been well studied, information on others, including waste discharges, disease, and noise, are limited or entirely lacking. >click to read< 11:02

Canada adds warm-water fish to list of species monitored in DFO summer trawl survey off East Coast

Several warm-water fish species were added to the annual summer research vessel survey off the coast of Eastern Canada in 2020.,, Monitoring for the blackbelly rosefish, john dory, trigger fish, tilefish fish, dusky shark and others was included in the DFO summer trawl survey along the Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy for the first time last year. It was done at the request of the commercial fishing industry, which is capturing them accidentally, called bycatch, but cannot land them because they are not included in any Canadian commercial fish licence conditions. That doesn’t make sense to Alain d’Entremont, president and CEO of Scotia Harvest,,, “I think that if they are groundfish species and we are catching them as part of our regular fishing, then there should be mechanisms for us to be able to land them,,, >click to read< 16:55

Half Male – Half Female Chesapeake Blue Crab

This crab, known as a bilateral gynandromorphism, is about 4.5 inches long and is estimated to be in its third year. It has both blue and red claws at the tip and an apron (lower abdomen) split in the middle. Typically, male gazami crabs have blue toes and a T-shaped apron, while females have a red tip and a wide apron. Gynandromorphic crabs have not been reported on the East Coast for at least 15 years. Gynandromorphism does not occur in mammals, but has been observed in lobsters, crabs, snakes, butterflies, bees, chickens and other birds.  Video, >click to read< 10:19

Something Smells Fishy: Allegations of Fraud in Ocean Acidification Research

While on tour in Australia in 2010, my friend, David Archibald said to me “Ocean Acidification is the last refuge of the climate scoundrels”. It appears he may be right. It also appears that James Cook University has a real research integrity problem, that Dr. Peter Ridd has pointed out, and got fired for daring to say it. From Science Magazine: Does ocean acidification alter fish behavior? Fraud allegations create a sea of doubt – In 2009, Munday and Dixson began to publish evidence that ocean acidification, a knock-on effect of the rising carbon dioxide level in Earth’s atmosphere, has a range of striking effects on fish behavior, such as making them bolder and steering them toward chemicals produced by their predators. But their work has come under attack. A group of seven young scientists, led by fish physiologist Timothy Clark of Deakin University, published a Nature paper reporting that in a massive, 3-year study, they didn’t see these dramatic effects of acidification on fish behavior at all. >click to read< 18:37

Female Sockeye salmon are dying at higher rates than males

Female adult sockeye from the Fraser River are dying at significantly higher rates than their male counterparts on the journey back to their spawning grounds, “This is causing skewed sex ratios in their spawning grounds, something that has been observed in recent years,” says lead researcher Dr. Scott Hinch, a professor in the faculty of forestry and head of the Pacific Salmon Ecology and Conservation Laboratory at UBC. “The implications on the health of Fraser River stocks are concerning, particularly as Pacific salmon populations in British Columbia have been declining over the past several decades.” >click to read< 15:48

Lessons From a Failed Experiment – When ‘Eradicated’ Species Bounce Back With a Vengeance

The study, published today in the journal PNAS, chronicles the effort and failure to eradicate invasive European green crabs from a California estuary. The crabs increased 30-fold after about 90 percent had been removed. The study is the first experimental demonstration in a coastal ecosystem of a dramatic population increase in response to full eradication. The crab is considered among the world’s top 100 invasive species, costing the U.S. commercial shellfish industry about $20 million in annual losses. >click to read< 08:09

Would throwing the big ones back keep Atlantic halibut fishery on a roll? DFO considers changing the rules!

The investigation is being undertaken at the request of companies that fish halibut using hook and line from the Grand Banks off Newfoundland to Georges Bank off southern Nova Scotia. They’d like to see it happen. “Releasing large halibut is something that fishermen will say, and I will say, that’s just logical, because the majority of the large halibut are females. But you really don’t know just what goes on after you release a large halibut like that,” said Gary Dedrick, a halibut fisherman from Shelburne, N.S., and a founding member of the Atlantic Halibut Council. “So this is where there is monitoring on the bottom and how long they live.” >click to read< 09:45

Dungeness crab fishing industry adapts to climate shock event

The delayed opening of the 2015-16 crab-fishing season followed the 2014-16 North Pacific marine heat wave and subsequent algal bloom. The bloom produced high levels of the biotoxin domoic acid, which can accumulate in crabs and render them hazardous for human consumption. That event, which is considered a “climate shock” because of its severity and impact, tested the resilience of California’s fishing communities,,, The study is the first to examine impacts from such delays across fisheries, providing insight into the response by the affected fishing communities,>click to read< 08:25

From the “Where the Rubber Meets the Road” Department: Automobile Tires Are Killing West Coast Salmon, Not Climate Change

Just last year, PBS and Popular Science were screaming about “climate change” being the cause of salmon deaths with headlines like “Climate Change is Killing Salmon in the Pacific Northwest” and “Climate change is cooking salmon in the Pacific Northwest.” It seems they were wrong. Dead wrong. New research from the University of Washington published December 3 in the journal Science, exonerates “climate change” in the salmon-killing caper and finds a surprise villain: an additive to automobile tires, not “climate change.” In fact, the researchers specifically ruled out climate change-driven water temperature increases as a cause. >click to read< 09:35

Spiny dogfish eat small Atlantic codfish! DNA may provide some answers

Conventional observations show that spiny dogfish in the western North Atlantic rarely eat Atlantic cod. However, some believe the rebuilding dogfish populations are limiting depleted cod numbers by competition or predation. To find out what is going on, NOAA Fisheries scientists looked to genetic testing to confirm cod presence in dogfish stomachs. >click to read< 13:10

“Wind is the culprit,” – NOAA study shows wind influence in GOA Pollock abundance

As Bob Dylan famously said “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” The study conclusively shows for the first time that year-to-year variation in the geographic distribution of juvenile Pollock in the Gulf is driven by wind direction, which may keep juvenile Pollock in favorable habitat, or push them into currents and on to less favorable conditions. “Wind is the culprit,” according to AFSC biologist Matt Wilson. “The consequence is that when a large proportion of the juvenile population is transported to the southwest many of those fish are likely lost from the Gulf of Alaska.” >click to read< 11:17

Covid-19 Transmission and Mandatory On-Board Observers

You have two Senators and one Member of Congress representing you in Washington. If you are concerned with the recent NOAA/NMFS decision to once again require their observers on board commercial fishing vessels,, you should let them know, and you should let them know ASAP, Feds the observers will be back and looking for rides on August 14, w/links,,, More on Covid-19: We know that research cruises by the R/V Bigelow have been cancelled for (at least) the rest of this year. There must be a compelling Covid-19 related reason for this, and I’d suspect for the fact that NOAA/NMFS has been making it awfully hard to get solid info on where their research vessels are or aren’t,, Captains and crew members know the people who work with them,, On the other hand, mandatory fisheries observers are about as far from necessary as one can get in this pandemic year. While they unknowingly will be putting fishermen at risk, in actuality all they will be doing will be providing government scientists with data points for them to add to data sets that in instances go back fifty years or more. By Nils Stolpe >click to read< 15:35

Coronavirus: NOAA Cancels Five Large-Scale Fishery Surveys

NOAA announced Friday that it will cancel five out of its six large-scale research surveys in Alaskan waters this year due to COVID-19. The canceled surveys include the Aleutian Islands bottom trawl survey, the eastern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey, the northern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey, the Bering Sea pollock acoustics survey, and the Fall Ecosystem Survey. The Alaska Longline Survey is not affected.  “We determined that there is no way to move forward with a survey plan that effectively minimizes risks to staff, crew, and the communities associated with the surveys. For instance, conducting the key groundfish and crab surveys in a limited timeframe would require extraordinarily long surveys, well beyond standard survey operations,” >click to read< 11:47

Eight Projects Selected for S-K Funding – Here we go again! Fisherman get the shaft, thanks to NOAA

To those fisherman who put in an application for Saltonstall-Kennedy Program Funding money, I feel badly for you who were not selected. Again, NOAA gave the money to universities, foundations, and other special interests and not you, who it should be for. Unfortunately for those who applied, this has been going on for years under NOAA’s selection of those that apply. I believe when authored by Senators Leverett Saltonstall (R-Mass.) and John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) in 1954 to promote and market domestic seafood, that they didn’t think our fisherman would be left out. Two years ago, I was chosen by NOAA to serve on a panel to review those who applied.,, by Sam Parisi, >click to read< including the press release. 19:12

Cod Cannibalism: With natural prey like capelin and shrimp in decline, cod are eating their young

Stalled. That’s how research scientist Karen Dwyer of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans describes the northern cod stock following this year’s assessment. Ecosystem conditions appear to be the main factor, said Dwyer — especially low stocks of capelin and shrimp. “Both of those prey are very important in driving the population dynamics for cod,” she said. While there’s been an increase in different types of zooplankton, Dwyer said, there’s been a decrease in fatty zooplankton. “There used to be large numbers of large fatty zooplankton, full of fat, which are really good for young fish to eat, young fish such as capelin or even young cod,” she said. “Over time they’ve seen a decline in these large fatty zooplankton.” >click to read< 07:18

2J3KL Cod Scientific Update was recently released. Important information was not included

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans released an update of the scientific assessment for 2J3KL Cod on Friday, April 17, 2020. While the Newfoundland and Labrador Groundfish Industry Development Council appreciates the effort by DFO-Science in completing this update in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, it appears that some important information was not included in the scientific deliberations. There is an internationally-accepted scientific model that has been used for this stock since 2016. This model provides information on overall stock biomass, fishing mortality, natural mortality and recruitment. All the data required to complete this analysis was available to scientists, but they chose not to run the model for this update. Contact: Jim Baird >click to read< 12:06

Scientists score salmon bonanza

On March 11, the chartered commercial trawler Pacific Legacy No. 1 left Victoria Harbour for a 25-day trip, carrying a large net to haul in salmon for examination. The vessel had been carrying three American scientists, along with three Russian and six Canadian researchers. U.S. scientists decided to return home when the vessel made a scheduled stop this week in Prince Rupert, said Nanaimo’s Richard Beamish, who is organizing the $1.45-million voyage with fellow scientist Brian Riddell. So far, catches have been “remarkable,” he said. “The science is going to be outstanding.” >click to read< 07:32

Federal study surveys spawning Atlantic Cod – Research area sits in waters zoned for offshore wind projects.

NOAA, the state Division of Marine Fisheries, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Marine Science and Technology are all participating in the study, which is funded by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The research is focused on what may be one of the last remaining major seasonal spawning gatherings in the Northwest Atlantic, according to the state Division of Marine Fisheries. “It’s certainly been a persistent spawning aggregation and there are not many in New England,” said fisheries scientist Steve Cadrin, principal investigator on the project for the School of Marine Science and Technology. Atlantic cod populations are at historic lows, hammered by chronic overfishing and climate change. >click to read< 07:06

Glum outlook scares salmon fishing industry – Wednesday, an expedition leaves for the Gulf of Alaska to try to help crack the puzzle

This year’s preliminary salmon outlook from Fisheries and Oceans Canada says overall expectations for salmon returns are generally low and similar to those in 2019. In many cases, expectations have even declined, it said, noting that the picture is brighter in “very few cases.”,, On Wednesday, a B.C.-based expedition leaves Victoria for the Gulf of Alaska to try to help crack the puzzle of plummeting stocks. Scientists from Canada, Russia and the U.S. will be on the chartered 37-metre commercial trawler Pacific Legacy No. 1. It returns April 4. more, >click to read< 10:00

New study shows ocean currents are shifting toward the poles

In the past 40 years, eight of the world’s major ocean gyres (wind-driven current systems) have been slowly shifting toward the poles at a rate of about a mile every two years. Up to now, available observations have been sparse and short in duration, making it difficult to track any dynamic changes of large‐scale ocean circulation. This is what experts at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), analyzing long-term global satellite data of ocean surface temperature and sea levels found. >click to read<10:49

Meet the super-plant from Nova Scotia’s shorelines: eelgrass

Eelgrass protects shorelines against storms, cycles nutrients and provides juvenile fish and lobster with places to hide and grow. If that’s not enough to convince people that eelgrass is a super plant, it is also many times more efficient at capturing and storing carbon than terrestrial forests.,,”If you lose eelgrass there’s nothing to replace it,” says Heike Lotze, a researcher and professor at Dalhousie University,, While protections for eelgrass can be put in place, Lotze points to a lack of understanding and recognition that what happens on land directly affects the ocean. Eelgrass is extremely sensitive to runoff (water carrying sediments and or chemicals) from land due to human activities such as development and agriculture (wastewater treatment plants). >click to read< 17:56

International Scientific Expedition to probe Pacific salmon survival

“While we recognize that ocean and climate conditions are major factors regulating salmon abundances, the mechanisms regulating abundances in the ocean are not known,” B.C. scientists Richard Beamish and Brian Riddell,, Scientists are seeking to provide more accurate forecasts of salmon returns during what Beamish and Riddell say might be the most difficult time in recent history for stewardship of Pacific salmon.,, The survey takes place as B.C. fishermen fear disastrous returns this year following poor returns for much of the coast last year. >click to read< 18:56

Dungeness Crabs Redux

Well, after my last post, The Solution To Dissolution, I thought I was done with the Dungeness crab question. And I was happy to be done with those chilly crustaceans. Writing that post brought back memories of how cold the fishery is. I remember leaving out from Eureka harbor at the north end of California and crossing the bar at the mouth of Humboldt Bay well before dawn.,, In that post, I discussed the manifold problems with the incorrect media claim that “The Pacific Ocean is becoming so acidic it is starting to dissolve the shells of a key species of crab, according to a new US study.” Willis Eschenbach >click to read< 13:59

Ventless trap survey seeks industry participants

The Maine Department of Marine Resources, in cooperation with the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, is seeking industry participants for the Regional Ventless Trap Program through a competitive bid process. The cooperative research project between industry and scientists from Maine to New York seeks data on relative lobster abundance and size distribution. All traps, line and buoys will be supplied to participating fishermen, >click to read< 10:14

Fisheries management is actually working, global analysis shows

Nearly half of the fish caught worldwide are from stocks that are scientifically monitored and, on average, are increasing in abundance. Effective management appears to be the main reason these stocks are at sustainable levels or successfully rebuilding. That is the main finding of an international project led by the University of Washington to compile and analyze data from fisheries around the world. The results were published Jan. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. >click to read< 20:40

Fishy Findings: 100% Replication Failures

Science proves… Science says… Research shows… Every week, the above phrases are employed by TV personalities, newspaper journalists, coworkers, friends, and family. When these phrases are uttered, certain ideas get elevated above the fray, enthroned on a pedestal. Science has spoken. Who are you to be arguing with SCIENCE?,,, The fallibility of ‘science’ is splendidly illustrated by a paper published last week in Nature. >click to read< 08:23

Chesapeake Bay: Targeting male blue crabs for harvest is preventing female crabs from having offspring

The Bay’s crab fishery is currently regulated to limit the harvest of female crabs, in a so-far successful effort to ensure that enough survive to reproduce and maintain the crustacean’s overall abundance — and sustain the estuary’s most valuable fishery. But researchers have wondered — and even worried at times — if harvesting more male crabs (or jimmies, as watermen call them) than females could be having an impact on the population. >click to read< 17:27

Skipper Michael Joyce says fish littering the shore indicates stocks higher than expected

A Lark Harbour fisherman says it’s frustrating to see thousands of mackerel wash up dead on local shores, while fishermen were not permitted to catch any of the fish last season.,,, Andrew Smith, a stock assessment biologist for Atlantic mackerel with DFO, says the input of harvesters is an important part of studying fish stocks, but he said the scientific data doesn’t support the idea that stocks are higher than estimated. >click to read< 10:29

Long Island: Study to assess whether shellfish dredging affects Oyster Bay Harbor

Researchers from Stony Brook University plan to study how mechanical shellfish harvesting kicks up sediment in Oyster Bay Harbor over the coming year. How the sediment affects the environment under the waves is a hotly contested issue that could impact negotiations for a new lease on the town’s shellfish beds. Baymen, independent shell fishermen, allege that shellfishing company Frank M. Flower & Sons Inc.’s methods are damaging the environment. The company’s lawyer said he expects the study to show their methods are safe. >Click to read< 16:25