Friday, June 30, 2006

Fish eggs are sexy least to female fish seeking a mate. Having a pack of offspring nearby is a good way for some male fish to find a mate.

Of course, some males can't be bothered with the real work, and have developed "fake" offspring that fool females into mating with the phony dads. The fakes can be elaborate appendages that look like eggs or baby fish.

Similar things seem to work for people. Women prefer men who like children and can identify them just by looking. But the good daddies don't get all the benefits. For short-term flings women choose manly men with high testosterone levels--again just by looking.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Fish thriving in Tortugas reserve

Five years after fishing was ended, fish are thriving in Florida's Tortugas marine reserve.

Scientists have found more fish and larger fish in the areas where no fishing is allowed. No great surprise, really, it's simple common sense.

But it's far from simple to get some areas closed to fishing. Some fishermen fight vigorously against all attempts to create marine reserves where no fishing is allowed.

I'm a fisherman and I accept the idea that some areas should be set aside for fish and not for fishermen. I wonder how many fishermen would accept closure of some areas where fish can thrive in the absence of fishing?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hawaiian ocean reserve success

Stunning success is rare for conservation, so I'm thrilled to point to the new Northwest Hawaiian Islands marine reserve!

Renowned environmentalist George Bush signed an order making the reserve off limits to activites that can harm ocean ecosystems. The limits are strict and sweeping, and they take effect immediately.


I repeat, WOW!

Click here for full details on the islands, the ocean ecosystems, etc.

This is ocean conservation done right. I hope it's just the beginning in reversing the tide of ocean decline. This has taken a lot of work by a lot of people, over a period of many years, and it's great to see the deal close.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cold water coral discovery off Washington

Coral jungle discovered in the cold Pacific waters of the US northwest.

"It was really breathtaking," said researcher Mary Sue Brancato, describing "huge red sea corals atop boulders that had rockfish all over them."

Sadly, most of the sites have been damaged by fishing. Some were "festooned" with abandoned fishing gear, and others were crushed or overturned, with the telltale tracks of bottom-trawling fishing nets nearby.

Despite being in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, most of the sites are unprotected. Recently enacted coral protection zones were placed elsewhere, where few people fish, at the behest of the fishing industry.

Who's driving the boat?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Starving ocean animals--links to global warming?

Fish and birds have gone missing off the US west coast, and the culprit seems to be a lack of plankton, the base of the ocean food web.

Big surprise for the US west coast, which is one of the places in the world where lush ocean life is fueled by fairly reliable "upwelling." All thanks to winds and currents that collide in the springtime and bring nutrient-rich water burbling to the surface, creating a feeding frenzy. Imagine college students flocking to free pizza and beer.

Is there a link to global warming? Plankton expert John McGowan of Scripps Institution of Oceanography said there's "a great deal of disruption going on in food webs and it's climate related."

Salty John McGowan taught my first oceanography class and he's watched plankton in the region for 50 years. If he's worried then so am I.


Back from my field work with a distinguished oceanographer (left), I'm happy to report:

Italy has some fabulous beaches, wonderful seafood, warm sun, and very friendly people. I recommend Sicily and Calabria to all.

One thing I must confess, today there are fewer cozze (mussels) than before, since I ate so many.

Time to go back to work, va bene.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Blogfish in the field

Duty and my fishy colleague (left) calls, so blogfish has gone into the field seeking answers to important questions. Are there still fish in Italy? What do they look like? How do they taste? Will I greviously offend if I drink red wine with seafood?

Technology will be limited and I may not be able to post until June 25. Happy fishes until then. I'll leave you with a sample from a previous expedition (Spring 2000)--that little girl is quite a bit bigger now and she LOVES the ocean!!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

New ecosystem found in cave

One hundred meters below the surface of the earth, an ancient and thriving cave ecosystem was found recently. So far, scientists have found eight species living in the cave, and all eight are previously unknown.

The cave includes marine and freshwater portions, and is probably 5 million years old, said scientist Hanan Dimantman.

I guess there is something new under the sun, although in this case it's hidden under 100 meters of rock.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Which is the real Washington?

Election season is approaching here in Washington DC, and it’s a time when much can be done or undone quickly. When the work of a lifetime can languish and die, or perhaps get done right for the wrong reasons. When the shine of a special place like the Northwest Hawaiian Islands can do much.

This year, fish and fishing are up, where will their fate lie?

Will it be the Abramoff Washington, money and power?
Will it be the Washington of The Washingtonienne, just fluke & folly?
Or will it be the Washington out west, where we actually have fish and fishing?

Fishing rules will be decided in Washington DC, it’s true, but only over the short term. If Congress says it’s ok to overfish, then snowy grouper and atlantic cod may take some more hits before they’re done getting beat up. But somewhere, somehow, there is a reality that matters. And it’s an underlying reality that nobody can manufacture. Hit the cod harder for a bit longer, and it ain’t up to Senator so-and-so to say how many cod there will be in ten years. There will be too few left to lie about.

The underlying reality of fish in the ocean will set the future. There is an inevitable logic to overfishing, and it leads the wrong way. Somewhere, somehow, we can’t go the wrong way forever. That’s how I know that overfishing must end soon. Maybe this year, or maybe not, but soon.

The Washington where our fish future will ultimately be decided is the real Washington with the real fish.