Despite a nutrient-rich environment, the fish population in the Benguela upwelling area off Namibia has declined significantly in recent decades. Scientists are now seeking an explanation for these far-reaching changes and are undertaking a research vessel expedition to this upwelling area.
From mid-February to the end of March, the research vessel METEOR is going on a new expedition. On board are scientists from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) and nine other research institutions from Germany, Namibia and South Africa.
The research vessel Meteor seen from the dinghy
Photo: Werner Ekau, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research
The research expedition will explore the large Benguela upwelling area off the southwest African coast. Upwelling areas are highly productive marine ecosystems that provide a significant portion of the world's fishing yields and thus play an important role in feeding the world's population.
From the depths of the oceans, large quantities of nutrients flow to the surface, allowing a great deal of plankton to thrive and thus providing the fish population with abundant food.
In recent decades, however, catches in the region have declined significantly, from around five million tonnes at the end of the 1960s to around 1.7 million tonnes today.
In particular, the popular sardines and anchovies, the most important source of protein for the coastal population, are now scarce in the northern Benguela region off Namibia. The number of predators who feed on these schools of fish, such as horse mackerel, hake, sea birds and seals, has decreased accordingly.
"Overfishing is not the main reason for this,” said Dr Werner Ekau, fisheries biologist at the ZMT and head of the expedition. “Namibia has had very effective fisheries management for 30 years."
The researchers are also surprised that the abundance of fish in the southern part of the upwelling area off South Africa is still considerably higher than in the northern part, although the amount of plankton in the entire Benguela Current is similar and thus provides the fish with a good nutrient basis.
The influence of climate change on the region could provide the researchers with answers. Ocean warming makes plankton thrive even more abundantly in the upwelling region. Large quantities are not eaten, but sink to the depths of the ocean, where they decompose and drive bacterial processes that lead to oxygen depletion in the water.
This in turn causes problems for fish that can no longer complete their life cycle or migrate from the areas. Sardines, for example, have shifted their range south towards the Cape of Good Hope.
On the Meteor expedition, biologists and biogeochemists will jointly investigate the consequences of global environmental changes on the Benguela upwelling area. The ZMT is participating with the work groups Fisheries Biology and Carbon and Nutrient Cycling. The expedition is part of the project TRAFFIC (Trophic Transfer Efficiency in the Benguela Current).
It is being funded for three years by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and coordinated by the ZMT. TRAFFIC is part of the German Federal Government's programme FONA (Research for Sustainable Development), which aims to protect common ecosystems such as climate, biodiversity, land and oceans.
Dr Werner Ekau
Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research
Dr. Susanne Eickhoff | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
To proliferate or not to proliferate
21.03.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik
Discovery of a Primordial Metabolism in Microbes
21.03.2019 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.
The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...
Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.
Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...
The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.
A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...
New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum
For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...
11.03.2019 | Event News
01.03.2019 | Event News
28.02.2019 | Event News
21.03.2019 | Life Sciences
21.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
21.03.2019 | HANNOVER MESSE