The science behind counting fish in the ocean to measure their abundance has never been simple. A new scientific paper in Nature Climate Change shows that expanding 'ocean dead zones' (areas of low oxygen) driven in part by climate change makes that science even more complex.
This is a blue marlin with a PSAT (Popoff Satellite Archival Transmitting) tag used to monitor horizontal and vertical habitat use in a new study in Nature Climate Change. Credit: B. Boyce www.savethefish.org
Blue marlin, other billfish and tropical tuna are high energy fish that need large amounts of dissolved oxygen. Scientists from the disciplines of oceanography and fisheries biology are sounding an alarm that the expansion of dead zones is shrinking the useable habitat for these highly valuable pelagic fish in the tropical northeast Atlantic Ocean. And as dead zones shrink habitat by depriving fish of areas with enough dissolved oxygen for them to thrive, they squeeze these species into surface waters where they are more vulnerable to fishing.
"The shrinking of habitat due to expanding hypoxic zones needs to be taken into account in scientific stock assessments and management decisions for tropical pelagic billfish and tuna," said Dr. Eric Prince, fisheries scientist and principal investigator representing NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center on the project. "Without taking it into account, stock assessments could be providing false signals that stocks are healthy, when in fact they are not, thus allowing overfishing that further depletes these fish stocks and threatens the sustainability of these fisheries."
The data on blue marlin, one of the most valuable and storied fish on the planet, were collected using pop up satellite tracking devices. These devices recorded the horizontal and vertical movement of these fish. The information on fish movement was then compared to detailed oceanographic maps of the same ocean areas showing the location of low-dissolved oxygen zones. By comparing the movement of the blue marlins and the location of low-oxygen areas, the study shows that blue marlin ventured deeper when dissolved oxygen levels are higher and remain in shallower surface waters when low dissolved oxygen areas encroach on their habitat from below, squeezing them into surface waters.
"We found that the blue marlin's habitat is being compressed, while the threats from human activity are increasing. In human terms, you might describe it as if you were in a house on fire with all of the doors and windows were locked, leaving only one exit, then discovering you have a robber inside the house at the same time," said Dr. Jiangang Luo, scientist at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, who processed and analyzed the popup satellite tagging data for the research team.
"Working closely with oceanographers, we are getting a much clearer picture of how climate-driven dead zones are shrinking the habitat for some of the world's most valuable fish. The alarming picture painted by this study will hopefully inform our management decisions, improving the long-term health of blue marlin and other billfish and tropical tuna fisheries in the central Atlantic," said Luo.
The oceanographic data were collected and analyzed by co-author Lothar Stramma and colleagues at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Science in Kiel, Germany.
While the new paper focuses on the tropical northeast Atlantic Ocean in the waters off West Africa, the expansion of low-oxygen zones is occurring in all tropical ocean basins and throughout the subarctic Pacific, making the compression of habitat a global issue. The problem for pelagic fishes in the tropical Atlantic is particularly acute, the authors note, because many of these fish species and the unintended catch, called bycatch, are already fully exploited or overfished.
About the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School
The University of Miami's mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. Founded in the 1940's, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world's premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit www.rsmas.miami.edu.
Barbra Gonzalez | EurekAlert!
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy