Rigorous Research Lights Our Way

The following comes from Hakai Magazine in Vancouver, BC. It’s reassuring to learn just how rigorous the research is that points us in the right direction for next steps in protecting and preserving our oceans’ marine life.

Ask any environmental scientist about their biggest challenge and many of them will tell you—or at least, many of them have told me—that it’s not always getting the data, it’s processing it. Acousticians scrub through thousands of hours of hydrophone recordings for a few precious seconds of whale song. Oceanographers parse endless temperature and salinity logs from monitoring buoys to find trends. It’s astounding how often science’s rate-limiting step is just dealing with all the information.

The University of British Columbia’s Sea Around Us initiative has just compiled a mind-blowing volume of data on fish stocks around the world. They measured species biomass since 1950 and looked specifically at how much of the fish that people like to eat is actually in the ocean. This scope of study is valuable, and this one draws a pretty clear picture: we’re decimating most of our favorite fish.

The group used computer-based statistical methods to assess over 1,000 populations of 483 fishes and invertebrates humans find delicious and found 82 percent of these populations had dwindled beyond what can support maximum levels of fishing. Some places were worse than others, but with such big data the overall trend is clear.

Next comes the question of policy. Catch limits and protected areas can help stocks recover. Implementing them, however, can be tricky. Sustainable aquaculture can alleviate fishing pressure, too. But whatever comes next, the first step in any solution is getting a clear picture of the problem. Now, there are some good numbers to lean on.

So this week, let’s give a shout-out to the researchers, students, and everyone everywhere crunching numbers and weeding through and making sense of the deluge of information out there. Without them, we’d be far more in the dark about the problems, and solutions, of our world.

Amorina Kingdon
Staff researcher and writer for Hakai Magazine

 

Warming poses threat to fish in spawning or embryonic stages

Article by Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press

Global warming looks like it will be a bigger problem for the world’s fish species than scientists first thought: A new study shows that when fish are spawning or are embryos, they are more vulnerable to hotter water.
With medium-level human-caused climate change expected by the end of the century, the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes will be too hot for about 40% of the world’s fish species in the spawning or embryonic life stages, according to a study in Thursday’s journal Science. That means they could go extinct or be forced to change how and where they live and reproduce.
Until now, biologists had studied just adult fish.
For adult fish, around 2% to 3% of the species would be in the too-hot zone in the year 2100 with similar projected warming. So using this new approach reveals a previously unknown problem for the future of fish, scientists said.
In a worst-case climate change scenario, which some scientists said is increasingly unlikely, the figure for species in trouble jumps to 60%.
These vulnerable times in the life of a fish make this a “bottleneck” in the future health of species, said study co-author Hans-Otto Portner, a marine biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany.
A marine heat wave last year, known as a blob, caused large numbers of migrating salmon to die throughout Alaska’s rivers. It also killed off cod eggs, showing what a warmer future might be like, said study lead author Flemming Dahlke, a marine biologist at the institute.
“With spawning fish and embryos most sensitive to warming waters, it means fish populations won’t be able to replace themselves,” said Rutgers University ecologist Malin Pinsky, who wasn’t part of the study, but praised it. “Without reproduction and offspring, we have no fish, no fishing and no fish on our plates.”
In studying 694 species, Dahlke and Portner found some of the fish likely to be hardest-hit by this phenomenon include Alaska pollock — the biggest fishery in the United States and the source of fast food fillets — and well-known species such as sockeye salmon, brown trout, bonito, barracuda and swordfish.
“The more we allow temperature to change … the more we will lose the natural foundation of human life, including food from the sea,” Portner said.
When it gets too warm for spawning, the species could still possibly move to someplace cooler or spawn at another time, but that’s not easy, Dahlke said.

“This could mean a lot of problems to many species.”

A CALL TO ACTION FOR THE COAST

Here’s a great article calling all of us who live on or visit the Oregon Coast. With budget and staffing cuts due to Covid-19, we can step up and help protect and preserve the coastal places we love and use.

Cleaning up litter is nothing new since we have had a great group of volunteers doing cleanups regularly. But with the pandemic still going strong, it’s a good reminder to those of us out on the beaches regularly to bring a bag with us and pitch in to fill the shortage of staff.

A CALL TO ACTION

Eel Grass: An Aquatic Star in Grays Harbor, WA

If you want to know more about one of the keystone species in our rocky shores habitat, read the following article from Olympia Washington’s Works in Progress newsletter. To me it underscores the fact that there are so many things we can and must do to protect and to restore the environment we depend upon for our futures.

Eel Grass: An Aquatic Star

Bandon’s Black Oystercatcher Project

The Black Oystercatcher is a unique shorebird species that is a conspicuous and charismatic bird of the coast. Because of their small global population size, low reproductive rate, and reliance on rocky intertidal habitats, they are considered a “species of high conservation concern” and act as an indicator of intertidal ecosystem health. Click on the link below to get the full story. This important work could not be done without many volunteers and conscientious visitors to our rocky habitats who know the importance of keeping a respectful distance from all of our marvelous marine life!

Black Oystercatcher Project

READY FOR STATE PARKS?

 

Are you ready to return to Oregon’s wonderful State Parks? Like many of us, you have probably been itching to get out again after having been observing the stay-at-home guidelines we have been living under. You many have questions about our State Parks.

Watch the video below and get lots of answers. Enjoy our parks. Stay safe. Have fun!

Oregon State Parks Message for Reopening

A World Without Salmon

There are so many things going on at once or our planet Earth, and with all of the news media and social networking blasting us every day – 24 hours each day, it’s getting harder to determine what’s real, what’s important, and what we can allow into our crowded schedules and minds.

Keeping all this in mind, I want to encourage you to read the following excerpt from Mark Kurlansky’s book, Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of their Common Fate. Perhaps you will agree that the history Mr. Kurlansky presents is more than merely interesting. It is critical to all living on Earth.

A World Without Salmon

 

More problems from plastic

The way humanity has been mistreating Mother Earth has rapidly risen to the top of our news media, governments (except the US government which seems intent on denying that we have environmental crises all around us) and environmental organizations. Here’s an article that you might appreciate reading because it takes the problem of plastic from somewhere “out there” to our own bodies being poisoned by plastics – micro-plastics more specifically.

We can and must change our ways for the sake of the world and for our own sake. There are lots of ways you can get involved and lots of organizations who will appreciate your investment of time, money, and support. Can you think of ways we can do more right here on Oregon’s South coast? Let us know. Join us in our efforts to be agents of healing for the environment in which we live and on which our very existence depends.

The Risks from Microplastics

Invitation to Take Action for our Coast

While we are constantly bombarded by the news media and by concerned environmentalists about all of the damage humankind is doing to our planet, it’s encouraging to learn about all the many organizations that are fighting for our future. I’m thankful that we are not just having to sit back and watch others do this invaluable work. There are many places where we can become personally involved. Here’s one of them.

Raise Your Voice: Help Protect Oregon’s Rocky Habitat

I encourage you to open this link and to join with many of your neighbors here on Oregon’s South Coast to fight to save our near-shore ecosystem for the future of ourselves and our children. I don’t believe that much good will be done by community members sitting back and leaving the work to others. Do you??

Please join in. Your children and grandchildren will honor you for it!

It’s all connected: Tidepools, Rocky Reefs, and Marine Reserves

Since the first time I walked an ocean shoreline in Sitka, Alaska, I have been fascinated by all the creatures I saw there. My children were even more fascinated than I was, so we spent a lot of time poking and prodding and picking up “creatures.” We even went so far as to bring some home. Maybe many of you reading this post have done the same thing. You might even still be doing it.

We simply LOVE these wonderful, living creatures and want to make them our own!!! And when we get them home, the inevitable sadness arrives. They die! They aren’t meant to be taken from their inter-tidal home.

Now that I’m older, and hopefully wiser, I know that the love my children and I had for our rocky shores habitat was harming it. I simply didn’t know how to behave around tidepools.

So, in case you are like I was, please watch the video I’ve attached below. Not only might you learn how to interact positively with the inter-tidal wonderland at your feet, you’ll also see an impressive video showing the beauty of our Oregon shores!!! Happy tidepooling!!

Rocky Shores Habitat: Handle with Care