Plastic Debris in Predatory Pelagic Fishes of the North Pacific

by Chloe Mayne

The North Pacific subtropical gyre contains large patches of marine debris and plastic. Recently, there have been reports of marine debris ingestion by sea birds, marine mammals, and fishes. Plastic debris is harmful to marine life, resulting in entanglement and decreased mobility, decreased nutrition or suffocation. Plastic also allows harmful organic contaminants to enter the marine environment, but there have been few experiments conducted on plastic ingestion in large marine fishes. Choy and Drazen (2013) studied 7 species of large pelagic fish for evidence of anthropogenic debris ingestion. Nineteen percent of the specimen had marine debris, primarily plastic or fishing line. A large majority of these species are thought to be mesopelagic fish that don’t come close to surface waters where marine debris is usually found. Plastic in pelagic fish shows the possibility of plastic pollution making it’s way through the food webs. These results are key in understanding the widespread nature of debris and plastic pollution in the ocean. Continue reading

Protecting Deepwater Fish Populations in Hawaii

by Katie Huang

Starting in 1998, specific types of marine protected areas (MPAs) called bottomfish restricted fishing areas (BRFAs) were implemented throughout Hawaii to address conservation concerns over deep-sea species. Although much research has been conducted on how MPAs benefit shallow reef fish populations, less is known about how protection affects deepwater ecosystems. Sackett et al. (2014) studied four BRFAs of differing ages to determine whether relative abundance, mean length, and species richness of seven commonly exploited species varied when compared to unprotected regions. The authors took video surveys along the deep sea floor in both types of areas and counted the number and type of fish in each. They found that mean fish length Continue reading