"Adjusting for time of year, and after checking and measuring 1,275 different trophy fish, she found that in the 1950s, the biggest fish in the photos were typically over 6 feet — sometimes 6 feet 5 inches long. By the time we get to 2007, when Loren bought a ticket on a deep sea day cruise and snapped this picture ...... the biggest fish were averaging only a foot, or maybe a little over. That's a staggering change. The biggest fish on display in 2007 was a shark, and sharks, Loren calculated, are now half the size they used to be in the '50s. As to weight, she figured the average prizewinner dropped from nearly 43.8 pounds to a measly 5 pounds — an 88 percent drop. Radiolab reports on how the average trophy fish caught at Florida's Key West has shrunk considerably since the fifties
." [more inside]
The Sardine Museum
with host Tony Nunziata (part two
, part three
, part four
, part five
). Bonus: Tony tells a short story
. [more inside]
New York City officials are asking visitors to Central Park's Harlem Meer to beware
of the northern snakehead fish
, a predator common in the rivers and lakes of Asia but considered an invasive species in American waters, which had been spotted. [more inside]
"Tool use in animals is rare, and bespeaks a level of intelligence that most of us are unaccustomed to associating with non-humans. That's what makes this video of a Green Heron using bread to lure fish to their doom so remarkable. One would be hard pressed to argue that this bird is not thinking critically about the technique it is employing to catch its prey. Not only is it demonstrating logic and reason in its capacity to understand that a piece of bread can be used as bait, it's also passing up the chance to eat the bread in favor of a better meal, actively weighing cost and benefit, pitting immediate gratification against delayed satisfaction. It's a stunning display of animal intelligence.
A new, controversial super-trawler, the Dutch-owned FV Margiris, has set sail for Tasmania, off the south-east coast of Australia, to take a haul of jack mackerel and redbait
, prompting concerns it is going to decimate several Australian fish stocks as factory fishing
has done elsewhere in the world.
Greenpeace claims the industrial super-trawler is part of the European Association of pelagic freezer trawlers (PFA), responsible for "some of the worst fishing excesses on the planet.''
It is scheduled to be roaming between the Tasman Sea and Western Australia this spring. [more inside]
As of today, Whole Foods
will no longer sell red rated fish
, and will sell only sustainable species. Some fishermen are fuming.
“It’s totally maddening,” Mr. Sanfilippo said. “They’re just doing it to make all the green people happy.”
Right around 1879, the fishwheel
, McCord replica
) came to the Columbia River. A clever application of mill-like thinking to traditional net fishing techniques, the fishwheel's river-powered automation of upstream harvesting revolutionized canning in Oregon and Washington, drawing both commercial attention and critical concern
[NYT 1881, PDF]. Two men, Thornton Williams and William Rankin McCord, each filed patents for fishwheel designs in 1881 (#245251
) and 1882 (#257960
) respectively; Williams brought an infringement suit against McCord which was dismissed on the grounds that the invention was not new
, being based directly on the publicly documented work of one Samuel Wilson in 1879. Fishwheels were fair game. [more inside]
How to feed 9 billion people:
The global food supply is starting to get tight, with increasing sensitivity to droughts and floods causing price spikes and food shortages. The UK commissioned a report to examine how to feed a planet
with a population that is set to increase to 9 billion by 2050. [more inside]
"The world’s oceans have been experiencing enormous blooms of jellyfish
, apparently caused by overfishing, declining water quality, and rising sea temperatures. Now, scientists are trying to determine if these outbreaks could represent a “new normal” in which jellyfish increasingly supplant fish.. Total jelly domination would be like turning back the clock to the Precambrian world, more than 550 million years ago."
Four years after being spawned Fraser River Sockeye salmon return to the same creeks in which they were born to mate, spawn and die. Salmon have a strong preference for heavier returns every four years. Prior to 1913 this cycle peaked every second odd year (IE: 1905 - 1909 - 1913). However in 1913 (a year that had a record high 31 million fish harvested) construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway along side the Frasier river resulted in massive rock slides that prevented most of the returning fish from making it to their ancestral streams
. Clean up efforts in subsequent years and the construction of fish ladders at Hell's Gate saved the Salmon from extinction and switched peaked returns to every second even year (IE: 2010 - 2014 - 2018) but numbers of fish returning were way down. Until now
. This year's projected returns are the highest since 1913's record year and not far short of it. This is bound to make the organizers of Salute to the Sockeye
very happy. [more inside]
Adapted from the book "Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food" for the New York Times. A pretty bleak look at the state of world wide tuna fishing.
How to Save a Dying Ocean
- "New England fishermen have mixed feelings about a programme designed to allow overfished species to recover. Mark Schrope reports on how catch shares
have scientists fishing for answers." (via
) [more inside]
Salmon, Trout Populations Surge in Oregon Rivers Steelhead, along with Coho and Chinook salmon, have made a spectacular return to local streams in the past year, leaving sportsmen exultant and putting food on the tables of struggling Oregonians.
In the early 1990s, John Lurie
videotaped his vacations with William Dafoe
, where they did their own comedic re-interpretation of an early-morning fishing show. From this tape
(or possibly so his fishing trips could be tax write-off
), Fishing with John
was born. The show
is a series of six episodes (segmented on YouTube
), each at a different location with a different fishing friend (though Lurie's trip through the Andaman Sea
with Dennis Hopper spans the last two episodes). The show, called by some fishing as performance art
, is pared with a soundtrack
that is a mix of sounds, part Lurie's band The Lounge Lizards
), part overly dramatic .. something
Scientists find monkeys who know how to fish
. Apparently, they're not the first
. Although they might be the first to do so without tools
. I, for one, want some sashimi.
The story began quietly enough on May 18, 2002, when an angler caught an 18 inch fish in a Crofton, Maryland pond
. In 2005
a fisherman is reported
saying "We would throw one in the cooler, two others would jump out and we'd have to chase them through the woods."
of the snakehead story in the USA. The snakehead is a voracious, predatorial fish
, capable of walking, attacking men
, living up to 4 days out of water and now spreading
from state to state
. Video of snakeheads eating
(disturbing). Another kind of snakehead, the smuggler of humans
. Mentioned previously
on MetaFilter. [via]
Air and water.
Photographer and professional diver Emmanuel Donfut takes not-completely-underwater pictures. His latest series involves both fish and fishermen
caught in the act, but he's been interested in other aquatic creatures
, and alcoholic
ones as well. More pics here
, and more on the technique used here
Wade in the Water
In 2004, Smithsonian Folklife Festival
featured the maritime cultures of the Mid-Atlantic region, from Long Island to North Carolina. Now, this site gives a home on the web to the cultural documentation gathered for the festival -- music
, stories and oral history
, an interactive map
, the occupational folklore and natural history of regional fisheries
, video, and more. The material, ably compiled by folklorists and educators, creates a lasting and very accessible archive of festival highlights as well as an excellent overview of the distinct coastal culture of the Mid-Atlantic. Don't miss the great menhaden net-hauling chantey Help Me to Raise 'Em
(links to mp3).
How Many Fish are in the Sea?
During the heady days of the late 19th century, in response to a perceived decline in coastal finfish stocks, Spencer Baird
and his clutch of young naturalists at the Smithsonian set out to find the answer. In 1871, Baird founded the U.S. Fish Commission
. The Comission set up operations in Woods Hole, MA,
where it continues its work today as the Northeast Fisheries Science Center
(a branch of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service
). The Fish Census of 1880 established the fist benchmark on fish populations in coastal waters; crews of Gloucester schooners competed to see who could bring the most bizarre fish finds
up from the platueaus of the Grand Banks, and America’s first research vessel, the Albatross
, was purpose-built for the project. Baird's protege (and later successor) George Brown Goode
compiled the data into the first comprehensive reference work on American fisheries
. Known to students of salt water as “Goode’s Fisheries”, the report (beautifully illustrated
) remains invaluable to researchers today, as today's fish populations dip into an even more drastic decline.
Big Fish! 14 year old Bobby Capri Jr. catches a 52 pound striped bass
in a kayak off the Atlantic City shore. But he's not the first kid
to reel in a big fish. The adult world record
for striped bass was also caught in New Jersey. So, who here has the best fish story?
Trout Stomach Pump
: Summer's almost here, so you'd best start looking for clues
. " Finally I observe what the fish are actually feeding on. To do this I have to catch a fish. This is frequently the hardest part, but I can usually scam one up somehow. I then pump it's stomach.....while securely holding the fish I gently insert the tube down the fishís throat as far as I can. I take particular care not to injure the fish during this process.....The suction created by the pump extracts the stomach contents. I carefully release the fish unharmed into the water (I have never lost a fish in this process). Then I squeeze the bulb and deposit the fish's stomach contents into my hand. It is then a simple process to match the stomach contents to the contents of my fly box"
The SalmoFan: So long, and thanks for all the fish and animals, and plants...
Amidst the catastrophic decline of large ocean fish
, Salmon farmers can choose the hue of their "farmed" Salmon
with the SalmoFan
. [Meanwhile, these same salmon are fed on a factory fishing catch process which effectively strips most large life forms from the ocean.] With 1/4 of all mammmals
and 1/2 of all plant species
facing extinction, Is the planet truly at a crossroads
? Are we losing the extinction battle?
.."Overfishing is a global problem. People are taking marine life faster than it can reproduce. The world's catch peaked at 86 million tons in 1989, up fourfold in 50 years.....But many governments, including the United States, Mexico, the European Union, Japan and China, kept on pouring subsidies into commercial fishing fleets to keep them afloat...The Gulf of California in Mexico is not dead, but it is exhausted from overfishing, which has caused every important species of fish there to decline....Crucial fisheries have collapsed worldwide."
Contrast that with This
: "[once upon a time there were] cod shoals "so thick by the shore that we hardly have been able to row a boat through them."
There were six- and seven-foot-long codfish weighing as much as 200 pounds. There were great banks of oysters as large as shoes. At low tide, children were sent to the shore to collect 10-, 15-, even 20-pound lobsters with hand rakes for use as bait or pig feed. Eight- to 12-foot sturgeon choked New England rivers, and salmon packed streams from the Hudson River to Hudson's Bay. Herring, squid and capelin (a small open-water fish seven inches long) spawning runs were so gigantic they astonished observers for more than four centuries"