Ah those magical song lyrics by my favorite crab, Sebastian.
As my friend Josh says, Kirby of the sea!
Recently, I ate blowfish for the first time ever, more specifically, the northern puffer, Spheroides maculatus. I cleaned up the fish, dipped them in beated eggs, coated with Italian breadcrumbs, and fried in olive oil for a few minutes (similar to this recipe). Some of the best fish I have ever eaten.
However, that’s not the point of this post. I went out fishing with a bayman in Great South Bay, and what I witnessed was incredible. Hundreds and hundreds of these guys. Pots were getting loaded after only a few hours in the water. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, it was an incredible amount of fish. My thoughts were that the bottom must be paved with puffers for us to catch that many with so few pots in such a short amount of time.
The amazing thing is that it hasn’t been like this in a long time. According to my fisherman friend, Frank, he hasn’t seen puffers like this in at least 15 years. He explained to me that over the last few years he has caught enough for him to eat, but not to sell. This year that all changed. I got to checking over the DEC catch data and his memory served him correctly (maybe a few years off), but the last big years were the early to mid 1990s.
NY State Puffer Landings, data from NY DEC
The assumption has been that populations disappeared due to overharvest, yet why have they showed up in such numbers now? Now I don’t want to speculate too much about why the puffers have returned in such abundances this year. Maybe the water was warmer? Maybe high abundances of potential food sources (increasing blue crab and bay scallop populations)? Maybe just some cycle? Whatever the case, fishermen aren’t the only ones who have noticed an abundance of puffers this year. My colleagues up at Cornell Cooperative Extension have noticed aggregations of puffers diving. It is interesting occurrence to say the least. In all my dives around Long Island in the last 6 years, I had only seen 1 (ONE) puffer in the wild, EVER!
This particular species of puffer has a relatively large range, being found from Florida and the Gulf of Mexico all the way up to Canada. The belong to a family of fishes known as Tetradontidae, named for the four plate-like teeth found in their mouths that fuse together to form powerful beaks. These beaks are used to crush the shells of mollusks and crustaceans. This group is known collectively as blowfish because they have the ability to “puff up” by gulping up water into a special chamber near its stomach. Puffers will do this as a last resort defense mechanism, when it is caught by a predator. Once released, the puffer will quickly shoot the water back out of its mouth and swim away. That’s pretty cool in my book.
Yes, members of the family Tetradontidae poses toxins in their skin and organs known as tetradotoxin. It is a powerful neurotoxin. Luckily, our local species has a much weaker toxin, and as a result there have been no reported fatalities from anyone eating Spheroides maculatus. Yes!
But my interest doesn’t stop there. Now that they are back (well, maybe I should say for now), I am curious as to how they are interacting with scallops and crabs in a sort of tri-trophic relationship. This was investigated in the early 1990s (not surprisingly, when puffers were last abundant) by a graduate student of Dr. Monica Bricelj, then at Stony Brook. They were able to demonstrate that puffers were capable of consuming scallops at a high rate and suppress mud crab predation on scallops. Since that time, scallop populations essentially became locally extinct, until the current restoration efforts (videos), so I am curious to see if these relationships still hold true today, and to investigate how this relationship is related to habitat complexity. I have run some preliminary trials thus far, so hopefully, the puffers will be around next summer when I am ready to run a full suite of experiments.
While it has nothing to do with my research, trawling is one of the most fun things I get to do, so I jump at every opportunity that I can to make a trip (as I have blogged about a few times before). Recently, we took some summer camp kids from Southampton Bath and Tennis Club out on the boat to do some fun trawling. This group of kids was one of the most enthusiastic group I have been on a boat with. They were all excited to get out on the water, and didn’t hesitate to dig into the tray full of algae and seagrass to pick out all the little critters.
Kiddies digging into the catch
The catches didn’t yield too much out of the ordinary – flounder, crabs, tomcod, sticklebacks, pipefish, shrimp, the usual things we typically get. But we did get a lot of them. We seemingly were constantly pulling baby winter flounder out of the catch tray (I want to guess they were all young of the year, but there was a range of sizes, so it could be a couple of year classes). There were a lot of blue crabs which we removed before the kids could dig in. And there was so many pipefish, including many pregnant males (yes, male pipefish carry the young, and apparently, will abort eggs from “unattractive” partners).
baby flounder and another fish
Kiddies around the holding tank
We even caught a few tropical fish. This time of year we typically catch tropical fish which come up in the Gulf Stream and get transported into Long Island south shore waters in meandering eddies. We typicallys start to see butterfly fish, some gray snappers, occasionally small groupers, cowfish, burrfish, and file fish.
But the real star of the show this week was the seahorse. Seahorses are native to NY waters, as the lined or northern seahorse, Hippocampus erectus, is found from Nova Scotia to Argentina. It uses a variety of structured habitats, however, on Long Island, they typically utilize eelgrass as their habitat. They use their tails to hold onto shoots of grass and sit still to wait to suck up little unsuspecting critters like small amphipods and shrimp to eat. Like their cousins the pipefish, male seahorses also carry the eggs. Lined seahorses are listed as “vulnerable” by the World Conservation Union’s red list of endangered species. They used to be common in Long Island waters, but loss of their primary habitat, eelgrass, has caused populations to be reduced. Hopefully, with the help of the seagrass group from Cornell and their work with seahorses, these magnificent sea creatures can return to having large, healthy populations around NY.
What a difference a week makes. Seriously. You may remember that a week ago, I talked about going out on a boat trip with a WISE – Women in Science and Engineering – group of high school girls. Unfortunately, we were essentially skunked. Maybe because of the weather, maybe just because of luck. Well we went out again today, with WISE program girls from 3 local high schools, to try again (and this time I was the educator!).
When the day started, it looked gloomy. It was raining just before we were scheduled to leave, was getting a little breezy, and I was worried today was going to end the same. However, the weather started to get nicer while we were out, and we got a bunch of cool stuff. And, maybe even more surprisingly, some very different things. Remember last week we collected only 1 dinner plate sized fluke and some crabs in 4 trawls. We had already surpassed that in our first trawl today.
On the first trawl we collected a juvenile winter flounder, a handful of (drum-roll please) juvenile cod! (Seriously, I was shocked myself). Also a bunch of sand shrimp (Crangon septemspinosa) and some rock crabs. In subsequent trawls we collected more juvenile winter flounder, a few more juvenile cod, a bunch of tomcod, sticklebacks, and pipefish, as well as grass shrimp, and many more crabs – including hermits, mud, rock, spider and blues.
Now we would expect to see winter flounder in Shinnecock Bay, a highly productive New York estuary. Juvenile winter flounders use the lush eelgrass meadows of Shinnecock Bay as a nursery ground. They are called winter flounder because they are present in the bay in the winter, and typically spawn in the colder months of winter and early spring – they produce “anti-freeze proteins” which helps them tolerate the near-freezing winter water temperatures. Their numbers have been declining in recent years, unfortunately, likely attributed to a variety of reasons, including warming summer temperatures, overfishing, and increasing winter seal populations.
Some of the other things we would also typically expect. Atlantic tomcod are estuary residents, as are the sticklebacks and pipefish. All three of these species were found in the eelgrass trawls, and I have talked previously about the importance of seagrass as habitats for a number of estuarine species. The Atlantic tomcod ranges from Newfoundland, Canada, down to Virginia, typically residing in brackish estuarine waters. Perhaps the most famous tomcod, however, are those from the Hudson River. They have apparently undergone fairly rapid evolution, with a mutation that produces a protein which allows them to survive in the toxic river. Luckily, Shinnecock Bay is fairly pristine, and the tommy-cod out here don’t have to worry much about toxic contaminants. But that’s still a cool story.
The pipefish have an interesting story as well. Like their seahorse cousins, males of this species actually carry the young. They have a specialized pouch within which they carry the eggs until hatching. However, last year, it was discovered that males will abort the eggs if they find their mate unattractive for whatever reason. Weird, right? Male sticklebacks also play a role in raising young. Males build nests out of seaweed and detritus, the female lays eggs in the nest, and the male protects the eggs and hatchlings. Pretty amazing parental care.
The big surprise of the day was the juvenile cod. Now I don’t go out on every trawl trip from the college this time of year, but I never remember seeing juvenile cod within the bay or ever collecting any in the trawls. I apologize for the picture quality above, but it had the shape, the 3 dorsal fins, and was deeper bodied and lacked the mottled coloring of the tomcod. So yeah, I was pretty exciting. Atlantic cod is kind of the poster child of overfishing (and also the subject of a really good book by Mark Kurlansky). Last summer, I blogged about seeing some cod while diving in eelgrass of Fisher’s Island, New York, and I took that as a positive sign. And actually, cod fishing on Long Island has picked up in recent years, another positive sign. Another possible explanation, other than a population rebound, is that the spawning biomass of cod could have moved closer to Long Island waters. Either way, it was exciting to see them in the bay, and a first for me.
But I think the real story today was how involved and excited this group was. The day started, cold, wet, and everyone was quiet. But as we started to catch lots of things, and the sun started to come out, everyone really started getting involved. It was probably the most rewarding thing for me to see the girls get excited, digging into tubs full of algae looking for critters, taking pictures with phones and cameras, and asking questions.
So my labmate emailed this new Science Friday video to me this morning. Long story short, when we go to the pet store I tell him to make sure he sees the fish eat before he buys it, and when the guy in this video said the same thing, Brad emailed it to me since I would appreciate it. The video focuses on an aquarist to the stars of sorts, Justin Muir of City Aquarium. As it turns out, the wholesaler, Merit Imports, in this video is where I used to go to purchase fish for the pet store I used to work at, oh about a decade ago (well, probably more than a decade now!). So I was particularly excited when I heard the name of the distributor and recognized the faces – the same guys who were running it back when I was going there. As it turns out, they used to work at a pet store for my boss, so we learned from the same “teacher” at the Rainbow Aquarium. The shop has since closed, due to issues in this poor economy and such, and even though I have moved on from that phase in my life (when I worked there I had 14 fish tanks at home), I still carry what I learned there with me Anyway, cool video.
Well I finally picked up a copy of the this month’s National Geographic with the artificial reef article in it. And by picked up I mean borrowed from a waiting room, but I have to go back on Thursday and will return it then, so I am no thief. Anyway, I briefly blogged about this article already when I was depressed about winter weather and longing to be someplace else, preferably warm, and diving. That’s because I love diving. And sometimes, there’s nothing better than diving on wrecks. Sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of cool things to see on naturally occurring bottom. But artificial reefs created by wrecks are definitely very cool (so is this video).
Image from Pangea-yep.com
But actually reading the article, in print, and seeing the pictures, made me want to blog about it all over again. This time, though, I will concentrate a little more on artificial reefs themselves. Artificial reefs are quite simply structures artificially sunk by man to create a hard bottom in an otherwise sandy and structure-less habitat. The idea is to mimic some of the functions of naturally occurring reefs – namely, by providing a hard, 3-dimensional structure that sits in the water column. These reefs are intended to attract and enhance many marine species, in particular, finfish. In fact, fisherman have been sinking things for decades (probably even centuries) to attract fish, so this is not a particularly novel idea. However, the number and magnitude of artificial reefs has certainly expanded greatly in recent years (Edit – as Dr Alan Dove pointed out in the comments below, there have been numerous “natural” or unintentional wrecks sunk over the years. So the rate of sinking artificial reefs might not have increased, but I imagine the rate of intentionally sunk reefs has). Typically, “Artificial reefs” just consisted of junk. Now, many have expanded to be large decommissioned ships, subway cars, and oil rigs (and other cool things). And even more recently, companies are creating artificial reefs from concrete, such as Reef Balls, which I think are pretty cool (and, if you are lucky, when you die, you can be commemorated for eternity as an artificial reef ball! Sign me up!).
It might not happen over night, but eventually these sunken structures become teeming with life. Swirling currents around these structures can kick up and contain plankton, which attracts small planktivorous fish. These little guys, in turn, attract larger piscivorous fish. In addition to seeking food, many fish arrive simply to seek shelter in the many nooks and crannies that artificial reefs provide. But its not just fish. The artificial structures also become colonized by invertebrates and macroalgae, creating a crusty layer of living organisms growing as a living shell of sorts on the submerged structure. This living structure offers more nooks and crannies for smaller creatures, and provides food for numerous species that inhabit the reef. It essentially becomes just like a natural, living reef, with the only difference being that the underlying structure is man-made. Typically, when we think of artificial reefs, we think of tropical locations. However, they are also used in many temperate coastal waters to enhance fisheries, including Maryland, South Carolina and New Jersey. Here, they create ecosystem structure typically only present on the few limestone rocky outcroppings that stick out of the sand bottoms.
Despite providing food and shelter to numerous species, there are certainly detractors, and artificial reefs aren’t without certain cons. One major concern is that some things are just tossed in the ocean as junk, but that companies/organizations/municipalities/entities use the “artificial reef” moniker as an excuse to dump crap. Its cheaper to just toss things into the water than dispose on land, and so sometimes, things are called reefs just as an excuse. That is bad. Additionally, many things that are sunk have toxic substances on them, which can actually do more harm to the environment, leaking contaminants for the life of the reef. It is for these reasons that there are now strict, stringent regulations for sinking artificial reefs.
But one of the biggest complaints against artificial reefs is the very reason they are created in the first place – they concentrate fish. The complaint is that these concentrations make fish easier targets for fishermen, and can be potentially harmful to specific species. According to the NatGeo article, some biologists believe that this artificial enhancement of certain fishes, can be extremely detrimental to stocks. One such fish that is likely being negatively impacted by artificial reef structures is the red snapper, which concentrate around the structures and become easy targets for fishermen. In other words, these artificial reefs might make fishing as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Obviously, acting as fish attractants with easy access can be harmful to fish populations, and some might argue that recreational fishermen are quite capable of decimating fish stocks, even in the absence of commercial fishing pressure
Clearly there are pros and cons of artificial reefs. However, it is my opinion that the pros outweigh the cons. And an easy way to eliminate the major negative impact of artificial reefs – the potential to overfish exploited stocks due to large congregations of target species around these structures – is to incorporate reefs into marine reserves and no-take zones. Yes, this might defeat the purpose of the reefs, and many will argue against this. I am not suggesting all artificial reefs become no take zones, but by leaving some as no take refuges, the reefs could serve there original purposes. While there is some debate as to the usefulness of marine reserves on highly mobile species, it stands to reason that artificial reefs create habitat where there is otherwise none, and enhances the local ecology of the area of the reef, enhancing species abundance and diversity. Plus, they are just awesome to dive on.
A few months ago I made a post about lionfish being fished an eaten as a way to eradicate these invasives from the Caribbean. One of the places where this was being done is Jamaica, and if you remember correctly, last week I posted about a tropical course that undergrads from Stony Brook get to take in the laid back paradise. My labmate, Amber Stubler, is there as well, working on her dissertation research, but also hunting and eating lionfish. So I thought she should tell us about it (also, all the pictures are Amber’s):
After much groveling, John finally convinced me to write a “celebrity” blog about my trip to Jamaica. Rather than bore you all with the details of my sponge research (which you can read about here, here and here), I decided to write about another issue going on throughout the Caribbean- the invasion of lionfish, and what the Jamaicans are doing about it. For those who did not know- Lionfish (Pterois volitans) are native to the Pacific and likely arrived in the Caribbean via the aquarium trade (however ballast water transmission cannot be ruled out). The earliest sightings of lionfish in the wild (confirmed by USGS) were in southern Florida in 1992, and since then lionfish have been reported from Long Island to Venezuela. The USGS website has a really awesome animated map of the invasion here, which goes from 1992-2010.
I have been coming to Jamaica on a regular basis since 2007, and saw my first lionfish in 2009. I specifically remember taking about a thousand pictures of it, because even the marine scientist in me cannot resist a pretty fish picture. Since then, their populations have exploded, and when I say exploded, I mean I saw one in 2009, and on this trip I could easily count between 15-35 fish in an area the size of a football field underwater. So at this point you should be saying, “Amber, what’s the big deal with these lionfish, after all they are pretty and quite frankly the Caribbean could use a few more fish.” The problem is that they are voracious predators who will eat small invertebrates, juvenile fish, and anything else that will fit in their greedy mouths. This poses a threat to all the indigenous reef species as the lionfish eat all of the native species’ food, or just plain eat all of the native species. Also these guys pack powerful venom in the spines on their fins, which will ruin anyone’s dive/snorkel adventure. And since these guys are invasive, they have few natural predators which means they are free to roam about the Caribbean.
This, my friends, is where we come in.
We’ve all learned a valuable lesson that the best way to get rid of a fish species is to eat them (examples: cod, Atlantic salmon, etc). So what’s a country like Jamaica to do? Eat ‘em to beat ‘em (which by the way is the Bahamas official lionfish slogan). The Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has begun an annual lionfish derby where prizes are awarded for the most lionfish caught over a 3-day period. They also hold seminars on how to safely catch, clean, and cook lionfish. Here at the Discovery Bay Marine Lab, staff members regularly go on lionfish hunts, bringing back dinner for their families and samples for Dr. Dayne Buddo, who studies invasive species at the Centre for Marine Sciences, University of West Indies. Dr. Buddo has spearheaded (no pun intended) many public outreach events teaching locals about the biology of the lionfish, the impacts on the ecosystem, and how to treat a lionfish sting. He also shares some of his favorite recipes, and cooks the fish up for skeptical Jamaicans.
After seeing Dayne spear several lionfish during one of our “fun” dives (ie not for research purposes), I decided it was time to take part in the action. So I broke out my shiny new speargun (specifically bought for this trip), and started wreaking havoc on the lionfish at my study sites. Over a course of our 2-week trip we managed to kill about 36 lionfish, and although that doesn’t really sound like a lot, we actually only brought the speargun out about 6 times, which means that our average was about 6 fish per dive. The largest we caught was 13 inches, and roughly 1 lb, certainly not a record, but a lionfish of that size can produce 30,000 eggs at a time, so I like to think that our killing spree helped save the reef from a few future lionfish. The great part about this whole kill-every-lionfish-you-can ideal is that it is uniting the fishermen against one species and will hopefully help eliminate/decrease the lionfish population here in Jamaica. Jamaica is already one of the most overfished reefs that I have ever seen, so having the fishermen focus on an invasive species gives the native fish a break from fishing pressure and keeps food in people’s mouths.
You can do your part too! Check out this awesome cookbook to become a full-fledged invasivore, and donate to a great non-profit organization dedicated to marine conservation.
Lionfish from my Fiji dive trip. It was upside down under a coral ledge
In Florida, divers collected over 650 invasive lionfish off the reefs during a series of lionfish derbies in the Keys. Lionfish hail from the South Pacific and have no known predators in the Atlantic. Additionally, since they are novel, many reef fish might not recognize them as the voracious predators that they are. This is especially problematic and has been cause for concern for quite some time. According to a NOAA website, lionfish were first observed in the Atlantic in 2002 and have been sighted all along the Atlantic seaboard and as far north as Long Island, NY. I am very aware of this population. It has made the press several times over the past 5 years, and while I have not observed one directly, I know of divers who collect them around Shinnecock Inlet, not far from some of my dive locations. (Maybe one day I’ll actually do a recreational dive around there and spot one for myslef!)
Back to the story at hand. Lionfish are invasive and threatening to local populations. So, in the US state and federal governments encourage the capture of these tropical invaders. But other countries in the Caribbean have also joined suit. Jamaica actually promotes the consumption of lionfish to encourage fishermen to harvest them. This acts as a double whammy – it protects some species from exploitation while also preventing lionfish from eating juveniles. While I don’t know of a fishing method that specifically targets lionfish, and I don’t want it to seem as though I promote overfishing, wouldn’t it be nice if fishermen could over-harvest to the point of local extinctions a pesky invader? According to the Jamaica article linked above, lionfish reportedly sells for ~$12 a pound in the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos government has offered a $3000 award to the first fisherman to catch 3000 lionfish. Similar lionfish derbies in Jamaica have already netted over 1400 of these fish. With all the effort, one would hope that lionfish could be controlled to the point where they are ecologically insignificant in the Caribbean and Atlantic.
By the way, according to the Florida article, when cleaned properly, lionfish is a nice white meat which is considered a delicacy in many places.
A recent article in the Press-Register of Mobile, AL, has highlighted some work by a group of Dauphin Island Sea Lab researchers. Now, we all know of the many negative consequences of the oil spill, and they have been highlighted on numerous blogs and websites (see some of those here and here). Now I first read about increases in baby fish in Gulf of Mexico estuaries back in September. Researchers had been monitoring juvenile fish abundances for a number of years, and when it came time to conduct those surveys this summer, after the spill, it appeared as though everything was normal. Some species even were more abundant than normal. So it seemed as though GoM fish larvae had dodged a bullet from the oil spill.
Now, just this week, the DISL crew is at it again. Trawl surveys at a series of sites have yielded significant increases in fish abundance post-spill. This doesn’t mean that the oil benefited the fish. Rather, the researchers are suggesting it was the forced closure of some of the richest Gulf fishing grounds that led to these dramatic increases, strong evidence for the dramatic impacts fishing pressure has on the marine environment. And unfortunately, this unexpected result may make it difficult to truly assess the impacts of the Deep Horizon spill for quite some time.
“There has been an awful lot of debate about longlining, gill netting, commercial fishing, recreational fishing, about how the ocean has been restructured by man,” Valentine said. “This was the first time we’ve ever seen such a large scale cessation of fishing.”
He said that the fishing closure appears to have demonstrated for the first time “how resilient the ocean really is if widespread management measures are applied.”
However, the GoM is hardly in the clear, and all the researchers involved are quick to point out that this increase isn’t necessarily good news. Many fish and fish larvae were likely lost in the spill, and it will taking longer to discern these effects with the dramatic impact the fishing closure had on the data. Either way, it is an interesting story, and certainly one worth thinking about.
Well it has been a few weeks since I’ve posted on some research articles. But then the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology published a manuscript about cod responses to expanding seagrass meadows. In addition, a paper out of Japan earlier this year talks about the loss of fish species with the loss of an eelgrass meadow. Combined, these point out the obvious, many finfish are dependent on seagrasses for habitat. However, its not just typical seagrass-associated species that are affected by the loss of seagrass.
First, what happens when seagrasses disappear? There is a wealth of literature that suggests disappearing seagrasses has many negative consequences for both resident and transient species. Many species, including numerous commercially important species, utilize seagrass as a habitat for at least some portion of their life cycle. A paper by Yohei Nakumura examining seagrasses next to l reefs demonstrated that seagrass loss has an impact on the abundance and diversity of fishes, including reef associated species. A series of disturbances, particularly typhoons, decimated a seagrass meadow near a reef, to the point where in 2009, the seagrass meadow had totally disappeared. This caused a 80% reduction in the number of species and a 90% reduction in the total number of individual fish along transects at the same site before and after the disappearance. In addition, they monitored a nearby undisturbed site as a reference, and there was no difference in the abundance or diversity of fishes over the same time period. Many of the fishes that disappeared weren’t just seagrass residents, but also coral dwellers. In fact, the only species that didn’t seem affected were some gobies. The reason for the loss of fish might not be the eelgrass itself, although the habitat does provide shelter from predators, but could also be due to loss of food for many of the fish – tiny crustaceans that live amongst the seagrass.
A more recent paper involves the increase in abundance of juvenile cod in areas where seagrass is recovering and expanding. First, I know what you are all thinking, I love cod and eelgrass associations! And second, it is great news to hear that seagrass is recovering in some areas (I can talk more about this later). Apparently, there are seagrass meadows in Newfoundland, Canada, that are recovering and expanding over the past decade. These habitats are nursery grounds for both Atlantic cod and Greenland cod. So, one might imagine that an increase in seagrass would be beneficial to these species. Using biweekly seines to monitor changes in fish abundance, Warren and others were able to demonstrate dramatic increases in young of the year cod in the seagrass habitats, in particularly in those “recovering” habitats. This increase also occurred rapidly with expanding seagrass meadows. This suggests that these fish are capable of recovering quite quickly if enough suitable habitat exists. However, it also suggests that since juvenile cod might respond so rapidly, that any negative changes in seagrass cover can be detrimental to stocks. Combined with the Japanese study, the literature indicates that fish populations may lack resiliency to seagrass loss, and illustrate the need for water quality monitoring and management, as well as seagrass restoration. Otherwise, the news that cod stocks might recover, might be just internet fodder. Nakamura, Y. (2010). Patterns in fish response to seagrass bed loss at the southern Ryukyu Islands, Japan Marine Biology DOI: 10.1007/s00227-010-1504-7 Warren, M., Gregory, R., Laurel, B., & Snelgrove, P. (2010). Increasing density of juvenile Atlantic (Gadus morhua) and Greenland cod (G. ogac) in association with spatial expansion and recovery of eelgrass (Zostera marina) in a coastal nursery habitat Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2010.08.011
Seriously, I need them… I have scallops, I have mesocosms, I have artificial seagrass, I have mud crabs. Check that, I don’t have mud crabs. I need fish and mud crabs! Wow, who thought getting these things would be so difficult… Went out trawling today with a group of elementary school children on the RV Peconic out of the Southampton Marine Station… We caught some interesting fish, and we caught crabs, just not the ones I am looking for. Oh science, why must you be so difficult sometimes!
Ok, on a more serious note, I am sort of freaking out here. I just got scallops on Monday. They are already around 10-11 mm, and soon they will be too big (assume ~2mm growth per week at this time of year, maybe less in a flow through system). So I want to use them ASAP. In addition, Cochlodiniumis blooming again in Shinnecock Bay. If it gets into our seawater system, my baby scallops are toast. Seriously, its bad. Read about it here, or here, or here if you don’t want to take my word for it. So theres two reasons why I need to get started quickly, and yet, it seems unlikely that I will have either mud crabs (probably the most abundant crab out there, you would think I can get those easily) or fish to start my tri-trophic interaction experiments. Ideally, I would like to have tautog, scup and toadfish (which have received varying levels of fishing pressure, and each of which will likely have a differing impact on scallops and mud crabs). Ah well. Here’s to keeping fingers crossed!
I am a marine biologist that is currently attending graduate school at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Marine Sciences Research Center, of Stony Brook University, New York. I am very interested in marine ecology and have been focusing my studies on bay scallop interactions with their habitats. I plan to investigate various anthropogenic impacts on bay scallop populations for my PhD dissertation. This blog will highlight the details of my graduate research, from bay scallop-eelgrass interactions as previously mentioned, to alternative habitats for scallops, such as Codium, to trophic cascades, and more. Enjoy!
Is a useful experimental tool to mimic natural seagrass while controlling many factors, such as density, canopy height, leaf number, which are usually confounding in natural eelgrass meadows.
Scallops seem to love this stuff!