Small Fish/Big Pond Sunday

In which we explore happenings in the hydro- and blogospheres.

1) Most ocean enthusiasts know all about the lionfish invasion that currently plagues America’s eastern seaboard and the Caribbean. Lionfish, introduced to the Eastern hemisphere by aquarium traders in the 1980’s, are voracious predators of juvenile fish and are fast becoming the dominant species on many Florida reefs, with predictably catastrophic ecological consequences.

Common lionfish I photographed in its natural habitat: Perhentian Islands, Malaysia. We're accustomed to associating invasiveness with ugliness (rats, pigeons, cane toads) but lionfish are a good reminder that beautiful animals can be insidious little bastards too.

So: how to get rid of ’em? Well, the New York Times has this entertaining video about lionfish tournaments, in which teams of divers compete for $1,000 by killing as many of the invaders as they can. (Or maybe it’s only entertaining to people who professionally killed invasive fish for a summer – I dunno.)

One of the many things I appreciate about the video is that it depicts divers as active managers of ecosystems, warriors on the front lines of reef degradation. The diving community represents a vast potential pool of environmental technicians, and aside from the occasional reef clean-up this potential goes largely untapped. The vast majority of the divers I’ve met would love to be more involved in reef protection.

2) In Japan, the black kokanee, a species of salmon that had been considered extinct for the last 70 years, was rediscovered in a lake near Mount Fuji. When its native lake was converted for hydroelectric use, 100,000 kokanee eggs were relocated to Lake Saiko, yet the transplant appeared to fail. As it turns out, the kokanee are alive and kicking. No doubt the Japanese fishing industry is salivating: a new species to eradicate!

If I were a previously unknown fish species, the absolute last place I'd want to be found is Japan.

3) One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about creating Thirty Below is that it’s given me an excuse to read many other cool marine blogs. There’s a cornucopia of great content out there – which is both inspiring and, for a neophyte blogger trying to carve out a niche, a little daunting. Anyway, among those sites is RTSea Blog, an ocean-news blog run by an undersea film company. This week they got their hands on a press release issued by the team of experts that the Egyptian government called in to analyze the causes of the recent Red Sea shark attacks.

Predictably, the experts concluded that illegal human activity – from fish poaching that reduced the sharks’ food supply to dive operators feeding the sharks themselves – were among the major causes. But the craziest factor?  “The illegal dumping of sheep carcasses by animal transport vessels within 1.2 miles of the shore.”  Uh, yeah, that’ll draw sharks.

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2 Responses to Small Fish/Big Pond Sunday

  1. Pingback: One Invasive Lionfish Down, A Hundred Thousand to Go | FishiLeaks

  2. Its really a very interesting and informative post indeed. Thanks for sharing such valuable stuff with us.

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