Category Archives: Marine Science

P.E.I.’s Western Gulf fishermen excited about highest lobster numbers from survey

There will be more numbers presented at the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association’s annual meeting in Charlottetown next month, but Francis Morrissey just couldn’t wait that long to share a statistic from Lobster Fishing Area 24. Morrissey, president of the Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association, shared the result from a settlement survey conducted last summer during the group’s annual meeting in Alberton earlier this week. “It was the highest recruitment that was ever recorded any place in Canada or the United States,”,,, >click here to read< 09:10

Science Pushed to Back Burner, as Swiss Outlaw Live Lobster Boiling

Some find it strange, while others, simply fascinating. And others still put it on their dinner menu because they’re drawn to its preparation in a macabre sort of way. But the government of Switzerland believes the practice of throwing a live lobster in a pot of boiling water is unnecessary, and most of all, cruel.,, And this heartfelt legislative decision – presumably not on humanitarian, but lobsterian, grounds – was made Jan. 10. In short, the Swiss simply feared that these tasty, sea creatures experienced agonizing pain during those final, heated moments of their lives. There’s only one problem with that: it’s impossible, since there’s no scientific evidence to support the position. >click here to read< 10:09

The Squid That Sink to the Ocean’s Floor When They Die

While the lives of squid are mysterious in many ways, one gruesome truth is that after mating comes death. First the male dies. Next the female, after making a little pouch of eggs, begins to starve. “She is unable to feed because the egg mass is in front of the mouth,” explains Henk-Jan Hoving, a deep sea biologist at Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany. “She probably gets energy from the breakdown of her own tissue, either from the liver or the mental tissue. This is how she stays alive, basically.” Then, once the female is dead and the eggs have hatched, her body will often float to the ocean’s surface and get eaten by birds. >click here to read< 17:43

US review shows pesticides harm threatened salmon, whales

Federal scientists have determined that a family of widely used pesticides poses a threat to dozens of endangered and threatened species, including Pacific salmon, Atlantic sturgeon and Puget Sound orcas. The National Marine Fisheries Service issued its new biological opinion on three organophosphate pesticides — chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion — after a yearslong court fight by environmental groups. >click here to read< 19:58 

Inside DFO’s Battle to Downplay a Deadly Farmed Salmon Disease

Part One of a series. Provincial lab played key role in denying existence of HSMI in BC. In 2002, Dr. Ian Keith, a senior DFO veterinarian, began noticing strange heart lesions when he examined Atlantic salmon from B.C.’s growing fish farm industry. Keith was likely the first to detect signs of Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation. The disease, first found three years earlier in Norwegian farmed salmon, went on to plague the industry there, killing up to 20 per cent of salmon in some outbreaks. >click to read the story< 19:21

Part II: DFO’s Plan to Gut Rules Protecting Wild Salmon from Fish Farm Disease – Part two of a series. After court losses, federal government has new strategy to protect industry. >click here to read< 1/11/18 20:29

 

Potting for cod in a Marlborough Sounds marine reserve

A while back we talked to Tom, a ranger in Akaroa who was working with MPI and NIWA to survey the marine reserves on Banks Peninsula. The survey looked at blue cod numbers in the two marine reserves, with the study allowing DOC to look at the effect those reserves are having on the wider Banks Peninsula fishery.,,, As the boat reached its first stop, the expert skipper flicked on his depth sounder to locate the band of rocky reef and rubble around the island where the crew would lower the first pot. Video, click here to read the story 14:58

The Invisible Underwater Messaging System in Blue Crab Urine

In estuaries off the coast of Georgia, the water is so murky that if you were to dive in, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. There, blue crabs feast on mud crabs, oysters, fish and more. You may eagerly approach these hand-sized arthropods when they’re cracked into pieces and doused in butter. But in muddy water, tiny mud crabs, no bigger than the tip of your thumb, steer clear of the hungry blue crab predators. In this crab-eat-crab world, they can’t see their enemies coming — but they can smell them. click here to read the story 20:01

Are Excluder Devices Saving Sea Lions or Covering Up Their Deaths?

A new study blames the fishing industry for the New Zealand sea lion’s decline, but some scientists have doubts.,,, To cut down on collateral damage, some fisheries employ excluder devices, special nets that allow unwanted animals to escape without forfeiting target fish. Australian fishers use seal excluder devices, or SEDs, while turtle excluder devices (TEDs) allow reptiles to pass through American trawls. click here to read the story 11:21

“American lobster larva,” wins people’s choice in Photography category of the 2016 Visualization Challenge

As a master’s student in marine biology at the University of Maine, Jesica Waller spent the summer taking pictures of baby lobsters.,,, This image of a live three-week-old specimen was one of thousands Waller took. It captures the distinct, delicate hairs on the legs. Since lobsters have very poor vision, they rely on their leg hairs for sensory tasks such as finding food. Adults have them too, meaning baby and grown-up lobsters alike taste with their feet. This illustration won people’s choice in the Photography category (click here) of the 2016 Visualization Challenge, now called the Vizzies click here to read the story 18:38

How We Know Megalodon Doesn’t Still Exist?

Megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon) is the largest shark, at a magnificent maximum of 18 meters (59 feet), to ever have dwelled in the oceans. We know primarily about Megalodon’s existence through fossilized teeth. A recent Twitter exchange, made me realize that both some people think Megalodon still exists and a really good write up on how we know Megalodon actually does not exist is not on the interwebs. So in a numbered list, here we go. By Dr. M click here to read the story 19:49

Florida fisherman finds Maryland blue crab

A blue crab was tagged by the Smithsonian in Maryland, and then traveled several years to Florida, where a fisherman recently found it. click here to watch the videoTagged blue crab caught locally raises eyebrows – When Tom Cochran started crabbing in the Crystal River, he didn’t think he’d make the news. But on Wednesday, Cochran caught a crab he considered noteworthy: one with a tag on it that read “Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.” click here to read the story 09:19

Famous 16-Foot Great White Shark Gone Missing

Mary Lee, the 16-foot Great White Shark that has had Twitter in a frenzy the past few weeks, has gone missing – electronically speaking. According to Ocearch, a conservation group set out to track and collect date from tiger and great white sharks, said her transmitter hasn’t had a “ping” since June 17, and no one has seen or heard from her since. Fans on twitter have been speculating her death, but never fear, it is more likely her tracker has lost battery power. click here to read the story 06:15

Deep-water experiment reveals lobsters’ appetite for jellyfish

A team from Heriot-Watt University was surprised to find lobster scaring off other marine life in order to eat defrosted helmet jellyfish carcasses which has been attached to an underwater camera and lowered 250 metres in the Sognefjorden in western Norway. The experiment was designed to find out which deep-water species were most attracted by a jellyfish dinner, with hagfish and amphipods expected to be interested. But it was the Norway lobster – worth around £80 million to Scottish fishing catches – that was most keen and ate half of the jellyfish. click here to read the story 10:15

Salmon or trout: What the heck is a steelhead, anyway?

Until just a few days ago, anyone interested in learning about B.C.’s struggling steelhead might stumble upon a website from Fisheries and Oceans Canada describing them as a type of Pacific salmon. The fish, according to this now-defunct page, “were at one time considered a trout species but have been discovered by biologists to be more closely related to Pacific salmon than other trout.”There’s just one problem with that: The current consensus is that steelhead aren’t salmon, they’re trout.,, A trout that behaves like a salmon click here to read the story 16:42 

Hatchery Fish Often Fail in the Wild. Now We Might Know Why

Wild salmon are struggling to get their groove back.,, For years, Canada has tried to help bolster the salmon population by releasing hatchery-raised juvenile fish, or smolts, into the wild. Scientists know these hatchery smolts don’t do well in the wild—the fish tend to die younger than their wild brethren and reproduce less, but it’s unclear why. In a recent study, however, researchers think they’ve hit upon a possible explanation.,, In Washington State, hatchery-spawned steelhead also do poorly in the wild. click here to read the story 12:31

Study: Ocean noise may hinder fish mating

The party is noisy. The music and conversation drown out what you want to say. Welcome to the world of the cod, haddock and other fishwhere its considerably harder because its done in the dark, 160 feet below the ocean surface, where vital communication – essrtially “Here I am, over here!”- can be lost at the constant roar of ships passing overhead, An increasingly noisy ocean may mean fish are having a hard time finding one another to spawn and navigate, according to a new study by NOAA scientists and published last month in the online journal Scientific Reports by Nature.  click here to read the story 10:28

Matt Ridley: Blue Planet II Was Superb, Save A Few Fishy Facts

Nothing that Hollywood sci-fi screenwriters dream up for outer space begins to rival the beauty and ingenuity of life under water right here. Blue Planet II captured behaviour that was new to science as well as surprising: giant trevally fish eating sooty terns on the wing; Galapagos sea lions herding yellowfin tuna ashore; an octopus wrapping itself in shells to confuse sharks. The series also preached. Every episode had a dose of bad news about the ocean and a rebuke to humanity, while the entire last episode was devoted to the environmental cause, featuring overfishing, pollution, climate change and ocean acidification. The team behind the incomparable Sir David Attenborough has acceded to demands that it should push more environmentalism. click here to read the story 12:26

Research shows juvenile endangered California salmon use different rivers than expected

In a paper published online last week in the journal Biological Conservation, a team of California researchers revealed a surprising finding: Juvenile winter-run Chinook aren’t just using the Sacramento River as rearing habitat; after hatching, they also venture in large numbers into the river’s tributaries, including creeks that feed into it below Redding, as well the Feather and the American rivers. Winter-run Chinook are a distinct species of salmon that return each year to spawn and die in the Sacramento River near Redding. click here to read the story 11:16

A close encounter with an albatross

Nahuel Chavez is a seabird biologist who has worked as an Albatross Task Force (ATF) Instructor in Argentina for eight years. He has been passionate about saving albatross since his first trip on a longline-fishing vessel when he saw huge numbers of them being killed, and knew he had to do something to stop it. Nahuel writes to us from a trawler off the coast of Argentina where he is on a 55-day trip to monitor the impact on seabirds. photo’s, click here to read the story 20:46

Net-mounted LED lights help reduce bycatch in Pacific hake fishery

LED lights can help reduce bycatch by aiding the escape of Chinook salmon from Pacific hake trawl nets, according to a study done by researchers at the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. The lights influence where salmon exit bycatch-reducing windows in the hake nets, and could increase the total number of salmon that escape, the researchers say. In a series of tests in 2015, the lights seemed to attract the Chinook salmon. During the tests, 86 percent of the salmon that escaped used the openings framed by LED lights. click here to read the story 15:48

Sam Parisi – Unless we have the science compared to an independent survey we are in peril at NOAA hands

I was reading an article in South Coast Today regarding the new director of NOAA Jon Hare who said quote, he is willing to talk to the fishermen. Among his duties at the Northeast Fishery Science Center, Mr. Hare is responsible for conducting the ground fish surveys that determine annual catch limits for each species. Fishermen have disagreed with NOAA findings and actually taken photo’s of thousand of lbs of cod caught in their nets. Up to now the vessel Bigelow has done NOAA surveys but now is dockside for repairs, and in it’s place is the Pisces that will only conduct a thirty day survey instead of sixty. click here to read the story 15:43

Endangered orcas compete with seals, sea lions for salmon

Harbor seals, sea lions and some fish-eating killer whales have been rebounding along the Northeast Pacific Ocean in recent decades. But that boom has come with a trade-off: They’re devouring more of the salmon prized by a unique but fragile population of endangered orcas. Competition with other marine mammals for the same food may be a bigger problem than fishing, at least in recent years, for southern resident killer whales that spend time in Washington state’s Puget Sound, a new study suggests. click here to read the story 07:43

Juvenile striped bass maintain average abundance in Virginia waters in 2017

Preliminary results from an ongoing long-term survey conducted by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science suggest an average year class of young-of-year striped bass was produced in Virginia tributaries of Chesapeake Bay in 2017. The 2017 year class represents the group of fish hatched this spring that will grow to fishable sizes in 3 to 4 years. The program, formally known as the Juvenile Striped Bass Seine Survey, recorded a mean value of 8.98 fish per seine haul in the Virginia portion of Chesapeake Bay, which is similar to the historic average of 7.77 fish per seine haul. click here to read the story 08:16

Scientists accused of scaremongering, ‘overheated claims’ with warning to humanity

A recent warning to humanity endorsed by thousands of scientists around the world includes “scaremongering” and “overheated” claims while ignoring much of the progress made in recent decades, some experts say. “It concerns me that the message from science is this doom-and-gloom scenario that just turns off about 75 per cent of people,” said Erle Ellis, an associate professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “There’s a small percentage that loves the crisis narrative, and they just repeat it over and over to each other.”​ click here to read the story 10:03

Savannah scientists continue study of black gill in shrimp

As the Research Vessel Savannah moved slowly along Georgia’s coast in early October, Wynn Gale calmly arranged about a dozen shrimp on a table inside one of the boat’s laboratories. He inspected each specimen for dark gill coloration, and then he took a photo of the shrimp on his smartphone. Black gill, named because of a telltale dark coloration on shrimps’ gills, is caused by a microscopic parasite. Scientists have determined that the parasite is a ciliate, a single-cell organism, but have yet to identify the specific type. Scientists say shrimp suffering from black gill are safe for humans to eat. click here to read the story 08:53

Squid: Coming to Life – How a cephalopod is born, in stunning microscopy footage

Produced by the evolutionary and developmental biologist Nipam Patel in his Patel Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, Squid: Coming to Life literally puts squid and cuttlefish development under the microscope. With a sparkling soundtrack and stunning microscopy footage, the short video shows the cephalopods transforming from embryos (when they develop in egg capsules) to hatchlings that emerge with the resplendent, colour-shifting skin they use for communication and camouflage. click here to watch the video 09:35

Über-Fish: The Amazing Tunas

Tunas are part of the family Scombridae, which also includes mackerels, large and small. But there are tunas, and then there are, well, “true tunas.” Two groups (sometimes known as “tribes” dominate the tuna clan. One is Thunnini, which is the group considered true tunas, characterized by two separate dorsal fins and a relatively thick body. The 15 species of Thunnini are albacore, bigeye, black skipjack, blackfin, bluefin (three species: Atlantic, Pacific, southern), bullet, frigate, kawakawa, little tunny, longtail, skipjack, slender and yellowfin. The other tribe is Sardini; these tunas — the dogtooth tuna and several species of smaller true bonitos — are somewhat more mackerel-like (notably with a more elongated body and a row of sharp, conical teeth). photo’s, click here to read the story 18:38

Transatlantic tuna may be boosting stocks in Gulf of St. Lawrence

New science released by the international body that manages Atlantic bluefin tuna suggests a theory about why there have been so many tuna in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in recent years. Katie Schleit, senior marine campaign coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, said science released by the International Commission for the Conservation of Tuna (ICCAT) found a large number of the tuna caught in Gulf waters are from the Mediterranean region. click here to read the story 16:33

Rarely seen ‘living fossil’ frilled shark caught off Algarve coast

A frilled shark, a species that is often termed a ‘living fossil’ because of several ‘primitive’ features that have survived for millions of years, has been captured off the coast of Portugal’s Algarve region, the country’s meteorological and sea institute has announced. Researchers from IPMA and the Centre for Maritime Sciences recorded the catching of a shark “with unusual features” by a commercial trawler, as part of an “initiative to minimise undesirable catches in European fisheries”. click here to read the story 22:43

Strange fish found on the Scotian Shelf

For 25 years Don Clark has been going to the Scotian Shelf to see what’s there. For the last decade the fisheries biologist at the St. Andrews Biological Station in New Brunswick has been in charge of the federal Fisheries and Oceans summer survey. Just after Canada Day each year, the CCG Alfred Needler heads out to trawl 240 way points on the Scotian Shelf between Georges Bank in the south and the Laurentian Channel in the north. It’s an immense area — the 120,000 square kilometres of continental shelf that extends off Nova Scotia’s eastern shore into the North Atlantic. click here to read the story 11:56