26 May

Oceans and net loss: we’re getting less fish, and smaller fish

Via Jay Lake’s blog, I’ve seen this effect even in my lifetime:

“The concept of shifting baselines was adeptly demonstrated by a doctoral student’s project in 2009. Loren McClenachan from the University of California’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography pored over hundreds of photos of trophy fish caught in Key West over the last half century. The photographs showed the biggest catches of the day, like groupers, sharks, and sawfish, hung on a wooden dockside rack. In the 1950s photos, huge fish competed for space on the rack, draped one over another. By the 1980s, the fish were small enough to be displayed in nicely contained rows. And by the 2000s, the trophy fish of the day were barely bigger than what you might find in a well-stocked koi pond. Yet today’s recreational fishers tacking their best catches to the board and posing for pictures feel just as proud as their predecessors.”

(Via Net Loss: How We Continually Forget What the Oceans Really Used to Be Like [Excerpt]: Scientific American.)