Tourism Causing Behavioral Changes of Whale Sharks in Western Australia

by Isabelle Ng

Western Australia’s Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP) is one of the few locations in the world where whale sharks are known to aggregate, which makes it a popular destination for nature-seeking tourists. Tourism levels are high between March and July, when whale sharks aggregate in high nutrient waters. While tourism may benefit from these aggregations, the whale shark is threatened and listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, most likely a result of human impacts such as tourism. The whale shark tourism industry is managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife under a species and management program, which is supposed to exercise “sustainable best practices” through a code of conduct. Continue reading

Lower Oceanic O2 and Higher Temperatures Will Lead to a Shrinking Habitable Ocean Range

by Wendy Noreña

The effects of oceanic dead zones and lower dissolved oxygen on marine populations are now generally common knowledge as media reports about fishery devastation and coastal habitat destruction have reached popular media. However, serious scientific inquiries into declining O2 in our oceans have moved beyond the macroscale of events like dead zones and have begun to focus on the day-to-day utilization and depletion of oceanic oxygen in the face of climate change. Deutsch et al. (2015) contribute to future oceanic warming predictions with a metabolic index that puts the combined effects of decreased oxygen and increased temperature into perspective. Using data on four extensively researched marine ectotherms, including an open water fish (Atlantic cod), a benthic crustacean (Atlantic rock crab), a subtropic fish (sharpsnout seabream), and a common eelpout, the researchers calculate a ratio that compares the, “maximum sustainable metabolic rate,” of an oceanic region or depth with the minimum metabolic rate needed for the survival of a defined species. Ultimately, the study finds that we can expect a decrease of 14 to 26% in the habitable ocean regions for the four species outlined in their research and that similar numbers could likely be found for any other species’ data put through their metabolic model. Continue reading

The Importance of Fisheries Management in Mitigating the Effects of Climate Change on Global Fisheries

by Margaret Loncki

Fishery management plays an important role in maintaining sustainable fisheries around the world. The more effective and flexible management styles are, the better they will be able to adapt to changing fisheries as a result of climate change. The most common fishery management styles discussed by Melnychuk, Banobi, and Hilborn (2013) are harvest control and flexible season opening and closing dates. Continue reading

The Intersection of Biodiversity and Socioeconomic Interests


by Weronika Konwent

Due to lack of specific species data, it is often difficult to predict where marine conservation will be most effective in maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem functionality. Olds et al (2014) test whether surrogates that fulfill the criteria of being keystone, umbrella, and flagship species can accurately predict which areas are optimal for conservation. They also tested whether seascape connectivity has an effect on fish abundance. It was concluded that the integration of these two conditions in marine spatial planning can positively impact the maintenance of fish communities and the functioning of ecosystems, and that these improvements can be beneficial to people in terms of sustenance and income. Continue reading

Conservation Strategies for a Changing Climate

by Weronika Konwent

     Conservation of marine species, especially as a response to climate change, requires a reliable conception of current and future spatial distribution of species to allow for the protection of biodiversity and the establishment of conservation at the most appropriate sites. Gormley et al. use Species Distribution Modeling (SDM) to predict how Priority Marine Habitats (PMH) in the NE Atlantic might shift and change according to climate change induced changes. Continue reading

Addressing Climate Change in Australian Marine Ecosystems

by Weronika Konwent

Australia’s diverse marine environment is under threat from varied effects of climate change such as marine heat waves, ocean acidification, floods, and tropical cyclones. Various organisms spanning many habitats are affected, including fish, seabirds, marine turtles, coral, and marine invertebrates, many of which are keystone species that influence the structure of a particular community. It is important to study and understand the impact of ecological changes on the habitat and its inhabitants in order to preserve them as effectively as possible. Continue reading

Arctic Warming and the Atlantic-Pacific Fish Interchange

by Kyle Jensen

For most of the Quaternary Period the inhospitable environment north of the Arctic Circle has served as a biotic barrier between Northern portions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Through it is known that interchange across the Northwest and Northeast passages has occurred, currently only 135 of over 800 fish species found above 50° of latitude are found in both oceans. Continued warming may result in the reopening of these passages resulting an accelerated interchange of species between the Atlantic and Pacific as species follow favorable conditions into higher latitudes. This may also lead to increased movement of fishing and shipping vessels through these channels, which could facilitate further interchange. This has the potential to impact the food webs and biodiversity of systems in both of these oceans, the consequences of which would affect ecosystems currently comprising 39% of global marine fish landings. To analyze potential impacts of future species interchange, Wisz et al (2015) has made forecasts of potential distributions for 515 fish species. Continue reading

Are No-Take Marine Reserves Really Effective?


by Weronika Konwent

No–take marine reserves (NTMRs) are established to promote marine biodiversity and to reign in exorbitant fishery behavior through the prohibition of all fishing and resource extraction. In the past several decades, the quantity of NTMRs has risen greatly across the world. While this seems like an obviously positive trend, many regard the existence of NTMRs as controversial. While most NTMR results appear positive, the opposition claims that faulty study design and a lack of objective empirical data may cause inaccurate portrayals of NTMR effects. Continue reading

Effect of Climate fluctuations on Fisheries in a Sub-Arctic Environment

by Neha Vaingankar

Climate change influences marine ecosystems in different ways. For example, fishery management plans fail because of unanticipated changes. Intense exploitation of fisheries may lead to bottom-up control of the food chain and greater sensitivity to climate change. Because climate change occurs so slowly, it is difficult for scientists to see the ecosystem impacts right away, but gradually, the effects become evident in the interactions between fishing and environmental variability. In this paper Durant et al. (2013) aim to explore the effects of fishing and climate change on the structure of populations of sub-Arctic ecosystems, especially when it comes to temperature fluctuations and fishing-induced changes in spatial and demographic population structure. They are particularly interested in shifts in spatial and demographic population structure that affect the recruitment and population growth rate. The results show some patterns as well as differences in the relative importance of fishing and climate on the populations and ecosystems examined. Continue reading

Mean Temperature of Catch Shows Impact of Ocean Warming on Fisheries

by Hannah Tannenbaum

Understanding the impact of climate change on marine fisheries viability has important implications for the sustainability of the industry. Cheung, Watson and Pauly (2013) collected catch and supplemental data, and computed mean temperature of catch, MTC from average inferred temperature of over 900 species of exploited fish weighted with their annual catch rates. MTC was inferred from modeled distributions for the years 1970 to 2006. It was shown that there is a positive relationship between increased rate of SST change and increases to MTC, and that global fisheries have responded with ‘tropicalization,’ shifts. Continue reading