Category Archives: Fish

Why do fish sleep in nets?

Lexa Grutter/researcher

Some fish like the roundhead parrotfish – which makes its home in the barrier reef – spend up to one hour each evening making a “net” composed of mucus and wrap themselves in it. Thanks to some new Australian research, scientists believe they may have an answer for this rather strange behavior. The research comes from the University of Queensland, and was published in the journal Biology Letters, and dictates that these amazing fish make these “nets” to help protect them from attacks from parasites.

Earlier on, scientists thought that this mucus “net”, which resembles something like a balloon filled with JELLO, helped to protect the fish from predators. It was originally believed that the mucus covered up the fish’s smell, and helped it remained hidden from things looking to eat it.

However Dr Lexa Grutter and a team of colleagues, always pondered just how the transparent, fragile, and easily removed mucus “net” could possibly protect the fish from any hungry predator such as eels or sharks.

Well, they seemed to have stumbled upon the answer. Parrotfish are constantly under attack from gnathiids – a really tiny long thin isopod which is a distant relative of the slaters and pill bugs we can find in most gardens.

These gnathiids are much like underwater mosquitoes, and can suck the blood of a poor parrotfish for up to an hour, and in some cases give them a disease strikingly similar to malaria.

Grutter and her crew discovered that these mucus “nets” act much the same as our mosquito nets we throw over our beds during the summer, to keep the pesky bugs away.

Fishing is Permitted in Ninety-Nine Percent of Pacific Coast of Canada’s Marine Protected Areas

Fishing is permitted in ninety-nine percent of Marine Protected Areas – also known as MPA – on the Pacific coast of Canada, so says a report put out by Living Oceans Society and released in Marine Policy this month. It is rather interesting that the fishing is permitted, given the fact that over fifty percent of the MPAs are labeled as “strictly prohibited” and are specifically set up to stop all fishing.

“Marine Protected Areas should be safe havens where species can regenerate, but the great majority of our MPAs are really just paper parks that offer almost nothing in the way of ocean conservation or sustainable fisheries,” explains Living Oceans Society’s Marine Planning and Protected Areas Campaign Manager, Kim Wright.

In order for the MPAs to be effective, the municipal and provincial government agencies that set up MPAs need to make sure that the fishing closures are actually put in place by DFO – Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Sadly, all levels of government are failing to get together and actually give any kind of real protection to the ecosystem of the ocean.

The study was carried out by Dr. Isabelle Cote, a Marine Protected Area specialist, and also a professor at Simon Fraser University. The study reveals that we really need to be protecting the oceans, however, that doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon…

As Dr Isabelle Cote sums up: “Marine reserves, in which no fishing is permitted, increase the abundance and diversity of marine life within their boundaries. This study shows that the MPAs on Canada’s Pacific coast are less likely to show the same positive effects.”

Red Lionfish Being Caught in Keys: Over 650 Reeled In:



There are now 659 less Indo-Pacific red lionfish calling the tranquil waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary home.

The end to a bunch of lionfish derbies was held this past Saturday off the lower keys. As you know, these lionfish have been making quite a nuisance of themselves for the past little while, and efforts have been made to get rid of the little rascals, whether it be simple catching, netting in, and even pan frying.

Diving teams managed to round up 109 of these dastardly invaders, adding to the tally of lionfish brought in froIndo-Pacific red lionfish m the previous derbies in Key Largo and Marathon.

Lionfish which are muscling their way into the waters off the southeast United States, Bahamas and Caribbean are causing harm to the native species to those waters as they are chowing down on vital reef species, such as snapper and grouper.

A spokesperson for the Reef Education Foundation, Lad Atkins, has commented that lionfish don’t have any natural enemies, except for us humans.

Salmon Seen Leaping From Waters of the River Derwent for the First Time in Two Centuries

European salmonThere is something fishy going on in Derbyshire – but it’s the good kind of fishy.

After two centuries and 80 kilometers inland, an amazing thing has happened on one of the largest rivers in Britain – a salmon was seen leaping its way upstream to spawn.

This amazing thing – which is more common in Scotland and Canada – was seen in Derbyshire on the Rover Derwent.

The salmon – which would have swum to the ends of the earth just to spawn and perish – had an easier time making its way up the river due to the higher water levels because of recent rainfall.

Experts are keeping their fingers crossed, and by building “fish passes” around the weirs, hope to encourage a more permanent presence of the salmon.

Salmon need to be able to make their way upstream to breed, and Jim Finnegan – an Environment Agency expert – has commented that everything should be done to try and make this process easier.

He said: ‘We have been down there and seen salmon trying to leap over the weir.
‘But the ultimate objective is to see them spawning or breeding in the Derwent, and there’s no evidence of that yet.
‘We will need to build these fish passes.’

Well, the good news is that the salmon are making their way back up to Derwent. This means, that with a little bit of work and care, that we as humans can help mother nature return to its natural course.

Black Caviar Back on Market – If You’re Willing to Pay


Sturgeon - Aaron Gustafson

OK you fish egg fanatics, some good news – black caviar can once again be purchased for your upscale parties. It is available on the shelves in Russia for the first time since it was taken off the menu back in 2007.

It was taken off the market in Russia due to concern for the survival of the sturgeon, who were under constant attack from poachers for the delectable delicacy.

However, now it is back on the market, even though the sturgeon is not yet out from under the cloud of extinction, and officials are keeping their fingers crossed that the competition in the commercial market may just help put an end to the black market of black caviar.

The ban on the sale of black caviar was supposed to help encourage people to start caviar farms – what can we say, good old Russian logic – which were supposed to use breeding techniques approved during the reign of the Soviet Union.

That being the case, black caviar farms remained under developed in Russia, and only one out of every five of them actually produces the delectable black tidbits. The rest of the black caviar comes from smuggling and poaching operations, Itogi reported.

After three years going down this path proved to not be getting the desired effect as the demand for the black caviar simply made prices skyrocket, and cases of poaching and smuggling became more abundant.

While black caviar has been put back on the market, the red caviar is expected to be the choice this Christmas and New Years’, given that the price is much easier on the purse strings.

French ministry blocked in protest by Plastic Tuna?!?

Just when you think things can’t get any weirder, France one ups you… Some activists from Greenpeace have utilized a car with what appears to be a gigantic plastic tuna on top to block off the main entrance to the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry in France this past Wednesday, to help insight interest in the fact that there has been a steep decline of the Atlantic bluefin tuna populations.

Environmentalists have claimed that the bluefin tuna are being overfished and their populations are in steep decline in both the Eastern Atlantic as well as the Mediterranean. The ICCAT – International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas –, which is in charge of regulating trade of the fish on the international markets, is to convene in Paris from the 17th of November until the 27th.

The French branch of Greenpeace is accusing the government of France – much in the “J’Accuse!” style – of placing the wants and needs of the commercial fisheries ahead of the needs and wellbeing of the fish themselves.

The vehicle that these GreenPeace activists so cleverly had dressed up with a big plastic tuna, also bares the message “Save me!”. The tuna was being kept in place by an activist who was laying loosely on top of the car.

People who had business to attend to in the ministry, simply had to use the other entrances.

Task Force Recommending the Slaughter of A Greater Number of Sea Lions at the Bonneville Dam to Help Preserve Endangered Species



It appears that Washington and Oregon should slaughter more California sea lions over at the Bonnerville Dam this coming new year to help put the states’ controversial “lethal take” program – which is three years old – to the test, and see if it can meet its main goal of dropping the number of salmon feasted upon by sea lions, a joint task force decided this past Wednesday.

The task force apparently believes that the proper way to handle the sea lions is to shoot them from land, or from boat, rather than trapping them and then subjecting them to a lethal injection. Fifteen of the sixteen members of the Pinniped Fishery Interaction Task Force agree on this course of action.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is helping to keeps tabs on the lethal- take program, should make the actual identifying of the sea lions which need to be taken care of, much much easier, the task force added.

The two states have a combined score of 40 slaughtered sea lions since they began the dark project back in 2008, which includes four which seem to have perished accidentally in the traps that year. However, the actual number of salmon the seal lions are consuming is growing, from a reported 3,846 in the spring of 2007, to a whopping 5,095 in the Spring of 2010, as reported by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

So their plan of “Kill one to save another” doesn’t seem to be working to well, however, the plan seems to be keep trying until they get it right…

Ugly Females Will Do, If No Other Alternatives Available

Photo Dr P Andreas Svensson

Scientists out at the Monasah University have stumbled onto an amazing discovery. It appears that male Australian desert goby fish are smart when it comes to getting in the sack. They tend to adapt their ways of thinking when females are scarce.

The goby fish devote an abundant amount of time, energy, and risk their lives looking for a mate. Previous studies have shown that the male gobies are more likely to court bigger females as they can carry more eggs than the smaller females.

However, our clever little goby fish knows when he is beat, and knows when to settle. A new study, recently published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, shows that if the male goby finds himself with a lack of females in his area, he will go after any that he finds, regardless of how big they are.

Doctors Bob Wong, Topi Lehtonen and Andreas Svenson have expanded upon their previous studies by getting their hands on goby fish from Central Australia, and keeping their eyes on them, in controlled conditions of course.

Dr Bob Wong, who is a senior lecturer in the Science Faculty at the university, has commented that the study has indicated that when the male goby ran into more females, they were far more picky about who they mated with, and how much energy they would use in the attempt.

“By contrast, males will court females vigorously irrespective of her attractiveness if passing females are few and far between,” Dr Wong explained.

This just goes to show that the male goby “like big butts and they cannot lie”, but more importantly know when they are licked, and know that beggars cannot be choosers.

Alaska Officials Saying This Salmon Harvest Has Highest Payoff in Years

Salmon fry

It appears that Alaskan wild Salmon are not only good at swimming up stream, but they can also swim against the current trends in the rocky waters of the global economy.

Even though there are many workers suffering hardship at this point in time, the commercial fishermen of the state are busy clinking their glasses, they just received the most money they have in eighteen years – a staggering $533.9 Million, according to rough calculations made by the state.

Generally speaking when harvests are at a high – at 169 milion salmon reeled in, this is one of the biggest harvests on record – the price of fish tends to drop. The whole “Supply and Demand” theory.

However, contrary to that theory, for a myriad of reasons, which include the problems facing the farmed-salmon industry, the prices of fish did not drop this 2010.

“This was the first year where I saw a good volume (of fish) and a good price at the same time,” commented a tickled pink Cordova gillnet fisherman who targets sockeye but harvests all five of Alaska’s salmon species, Kim Menster.

Ever since Menster became a gillnet fisherman back in 1998, the price of fish she has paid has doubled in terms of sockeye, and quadrupled for chum, she has roughly calculated.

Now, during this same time frame, the value of a gillnet permit took a dive from $60,000 down to $40,000 and then took an abrupt emplosive shot upward to $160,000 she commented.

Gollum Risking Extinction in New Zealand, Frodo Can’t Help Him

Click thumbnail to see full size image (new site opens)

A unique, and hard to find, fished which is named after a J.R.R. Tolkien character is facing extinction if the plans to build a dam come to fruition. You see, it happens to only live in that one river in New Zealand, and cannot be transplanted easily.

Gollum galaxias, fifteen centimeters in length, can only really be seen on Stewart Island in New Zealand. Pioneer Generation Ltd., a local power company, wants to build a hydroelectric plant, but this would effectively destroy the Gollum’s home, the Nevis River.

The company is overlooking plans to make an appeal of the government decision to ban making a dam on the river.

A special tribunal was formed to discus the fate of the Gollum’s home and it was decided that it “is very clear that damming the Nevis River would also damn the Gollum to permanent extinction” Russel Norman, of the New Zealand Green Party commented to Scoop Independent News.

The DOC – New Zealand Department of Conservation – had already said that the Gollum was “nationally vulnerable”. However, the DOC had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to block the power company from making its dam, and damning the Gollum in the process. That decision was made following requests that the character of the Nevis River be preserved.

It looks like the Gollum is safe for now, but how long will it be before someone gives in, and starts lobbying for a new power station, as opposed to a fish?