Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Extensive commercial fishing endangers Mediterranean dolphin populations

04.02.2010
*"The Mediterranean Sea has a stable and constant dolphin population off the coast of Israel. Any resolution concerning the sea must also consider the dolphins," says Dr. Aviad Scheinin of the University of Haifa, who carried out the study.*

Extensive commercial fishing endangers dolphin populations in the Mediterranean. This has been shown in a new study carried out at the University of Haifa's Department of Maritime Civilizations. "Unfortunately, we turn our backs to the sea and do not give much consideration to our marine neighbors," states researcher Dr. Aviad Scheinin.

The study, which was supervised by Prof. Ehud Spanier and Dr. Dan Kerem, examined the competition between the two top predators along the Mediterranean coast of Israel: the Common Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and bottom trawlers. (Trawling is the principal type of commercial fishing in Israel and involves dragging a large fishing net through the water, close to the sea floor, from the back of a boat.) These two predators off the coast of Israel trap similar types of fish near the sea floor, so the researchers decided to examine the nature of the competition between the two.

Commercial trawling in the Mediterranean off the coast of Israel targets codfish, red mullet and sole, three commercial and sought-after types of fish. The Department of Fisheries in Israel's Ministry of Agriculture has data showing that over the years the amount of fish from the sea floor looted by Israel's commercial trawling is larger than the amount of fish that nature provides, indicating that the sea floor fish population dropped between the years 1949 and 2006.

Would this decline in fish supply necessarily cause direct harm to the dolphins, seeing as their diet might also include other types of fish? In order to verify this, the researcher examined the contents of the stomachs of 26 dolphins that died and landed on the beach, or that had been caught by mistake. He also examined the behavior of living dolphins by carrying out 232 marine surveys over more than 3,000 km. along the central coast of Israel. The dolphins' stomachs contained mainly non-commercialized fish, suggesting that they perhaps do not compete directly with the commercial trawlers, and that the commercial fishing does not directly affect the dolphins' nutrition.

The living dolphins' behavior, on the other hand, draws an entirely different picture. According to Dr. Scheinin, most of the dolphins were observed around the trawling boats: the chances of observing a school of dolphins near a trawler is ten times higher than in the open sea. This is because the trawler serves as a "feeding station" for the dolphins: there they are not able to feed from the more expensive loot caught in the nets, but they are able to enjoy schools of other types of fish that swim around the trawler. "The problem is that this type of fishing endangers the dolphins. Eight dolphins die each year off the coast of Israel on average, and of those, four die after having been mistakenly caught in trawling nets. Seeing as many studies have proven the high intelligence of the dolphin, it is clear that these sea mammals are aware of this danger, but are left with little choice due to their need to search for food around the trawlers due to the scarcity of other food sources," Dr. Scheinin explains.

This conclusion is reinforced by the suckling female dolphins. These dolphins require larger quantities of food than usual, and despite the risk for the younger and much less experienced dolphins that swim by their side, all of the suckling dolphins have been observed significantly more frequently around the trawlers. This indicates that they could not obtain enough food in other places.

The dolphins off the coast of Israel spend most of their time in search of food while their mates in other areas in the world are far busier with social activities. This fact is yet another contributing factor to the assumption that they suffer a deficiency in food resources.

The present study illustrates, for the first time, the characteristics of the dolphins inhabiting the sea region off the Mediterranean coast of Israel. This dolphin population is stable and at any given time can be counted at about 350 dolphins. Of these, the researchers are personally familiar with 150 dolphins – on a first name basis – which can be identified by the dorsal fin, the dolphin's fingerprint. Forty of these are seen repeatedly and are permanent inhabitants of opposite the coast of Israel. "There is a stable dolphin population off the shores of Israel, and any resolution concerning the sea must also consider the dolphins. So as to preserve this population we must declare extensive marine nature reserves, so as to regulate fishing and bring an end to sea pollution. Regrettably, we are not considerate enough of the dolphins," concludes Dr. Scheinin.

Amir Gilat, Ph.D.
Communication and Media Relations
University of Haifa
Tel: +972-4-8240092/4
press@univ.haifa.ac.il

Amir Gilat | University of Haifa
Further information:
http://www.haifa.ac.il

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University

nachricht Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide
13.11.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>