Great white whales. Schools of fish so thick they slowed boats. Sea monsters that could swallow a sailor whole. The last one may still be the stuff of lore, but scientists are using a curious series of census tools to gather evidence of an ocean that, as recently as decades ago, fairly teemed with marine life, far bigger and more plentiful that what's found in today's oceans.
Alone, the shipping logs and menus, woodcuts and photos, don't amount to much. But as a whole, the hundreds of thousands of documents being amassed for the Census of Marine Life project are proving uncomfortably telling.
Whaling is just a single piece of the puzzle. One researcher culled 50 years' worth of Key West fishing trophy photos to find that fish diversity and size has dwindled to a shadow of its former self (compare the photo above with the one below). Another pinpointed the point in time when equipment became technologically advanced enough for humans to make a major dent while on deep-sea expeditions -- the introduction of two-ship drag-netting in the 1600s.
And some of the documentation is just cool. A Sicilian text from 1153 mentions North Atlantic islanders who capture marine life so large they can build homes from the bones.
For years, scientists have been tolling the warning bell about sea life in general. One report marks 2050 as the end of sea fish. Whether that proves drastic or accurate has yet to be seen, but an understanding of the past may well be our best guide to the future.
"The History of Marine Animal Populations project gives a head start of decades and even centuries in anticipating trends -- both good and bad," says Jesse Ausube, director of the census project. "Forecasting and backcasting are two sides of the same coin."
good all they do is pee in my drinking water :)
This is not a science story. I believe those are jewfish - giant groupers in the first picture. Those are protected species. I used to scuba in Marathon, about 30 miles north of Key West. Those fish are still out there. You are not allowed to catch them! As for the second picture, that is not a representative deep sea catch. Ask current locals. This is not a fair comparison at all.
"This is not a fair comparison at all."
Fairness and observable facts are not the point here. Humans are bad, fish are good. Move along.
In this case it may not be a fair comparison, but there's no denying that we are fishing the heck out of our waters. Tuna size are less than half of what they used to be 20+ years ago, and the fishing industry is still growing.
Okay lets look at this from a scientific view. Black Grouper, Jewish (Goliath Grouper) and Warsaw Grouper here. These are seasonal fish except the Jewfish. They are caught on the bar during early fall. The second rack of fish was caught during the summer time. If you want to look at this from a scientific view look at one spieces say the King Mackerel or Kingfish... Now why are King Mackerel so few and small compare to years past? Well if you go back to the site you got these photo's from (Monroe County Library) you will see some small Kingfish there as well. Though I will agree that the Kingfish population was greatly reduced during the late 70's because we allowed gill nets to be used as well as Japanese longlines off our coast. The Gill net was a fine method in itself, large fish hit the net drown and sink to the bottom. Medium fish are caught by their heads getting caught in the net and their gills not letting fall out. Here is the real killer the schools of kingfish were spotted by plane and the whole school surrounded. When the net was to full to retrieve they cut the net away and allowed the fish to rot then they would come back later to claim it. The electronic age of GPS has had it's toll as well placing less experienced fishermen on wrecks and other srtuctures attacking fish... But all in all the fish survive... The recreational fisherman or even the commerical fisherman working with a line and a hook will not clean out all the fish. Keep the Longline and net fishermen off the water and there will be plenty of fish unless all the polution destroys them first. Yes the waste plant of Key West has done it's damage as well... Too much protein in the waters are causing algae to grow on the reef's killing off the reef which is removing bait fish (food) for the larger one's. Why do you think other countries are able to provide fish to us... How do I know these facts? well I fished on the very boats you have shown. From the early 60's through the 70's. I look at some of the catches (through the library) and see they had good days and bad days well before I was born (1959). Most of all place your faith and hope in Christ.
The seeker of knowledge who seeks to reach beyond the stars to go where no mans gone before to see things no man has seen and bring these experiences back for the whole world to hear and see.
To understand the true scope of this.You have to think outside the box we have been fishing since man began but in the past five hundred years we have signifigantly increased are damage as we have honed are technology it has provided unsermountable devistation to ocean eco systems.People dont think about the role each animal plays you over fish one fish a fish that eats that fish starves causing a entire diffrent speacies to suffer even if we are not fishing them and it's a ripple effect all the way up and down the food chain and then you multiply it times the amount you can catch the amount of people fishing that fish and maybe you can begin to begin to imagine we as a speacies are destructive we are a cancer on all living life becouse we think as individuals. people dont think. we are vastly over populated we over do everything we do. we over over fish over cut forest we over kill animals we do eveything over the normal are philosphy is example we want a freeway put here4 but here is a migration route for a speacies who cares.thats how we do buisness we displace all types of animals for are benfits.this is trulyVisionary til next time