Fish

Most fish turned into fishmeal are species that we could be eating

fishing boat full of anchoveta
Historically, the Peruvian anchoveta was a main source of protein for people in Peru. Today, though, most of the catch is turned into fishmeal that feeds animals.

A person growing up in Peru in the 1970s or 1980s probably didn’t eat anchoveta, the local species of anchovies. The stinky, oily fish was a food fit only for animals or the very poor. The anchoveta fishery may have been (and still is, in many years) the world’s largest, but it wasn’t one that put food on the table.

For thousands of years, though, anchoveta fed the people of Peru. It was only when the industrial fishing fleet got started in the 1950s — one that converted most of its catch into fishmeal for feeding other animals — that people lost interest in the fish.

In fact, of the some 20 million metric tons of fish caught annually around the world for uses other than eating, 90 percent are fish that are perfectly good to eat, such as sardines, anchovies and herring, a new study finds.

“Historically, these fish were eaten for human consumption,” but at some point, like the anchoveta, they gained a reputation as being “trash,” notes Tim Cashion, the study’s lead author.

Cashion is a researcher for the Sea Around Us project at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Ocean and Fisheries, and he and his colleagues have been collecting data to illuminate the impact of fisheries on marine ecosystems. Cashion spent a year tallying up fishery catches around the world from 1950 to 2010,…

10 Roaring Facts About Jaguars

A few different jaguars have found fame on YouTube over the last few years: In 2013, a National Geographic video of one of the cats taking down an unsuspecting crocodile went viral. And a year later, 4.5 million viewers watched some spectacular footage of one swimming like a champion. But these cats deserve more than just 15 seconds of fame. Here are 10 incredible facts about jaguars that might help you properly appreciate the next hit video.

1. ONLY ONE OR TWO WILD JAGUARS NOW LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES (AS FAR AS WE KNOW).

Wikimedia Commons

These big cats used to have an enormous geographic range, stretching from Argentina to the southwestern United States. In centuries gone by, jaguars were among the top predators in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and southern California. Overhunting, habitat loss, and armed livestock owners completely wiped out the local population in at least three of those states. In 2011, a male was photographed in the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson, Arizona. Nicknamed El Jefe (Spanish for “the boss”), this cat quickly became a minor celebrity because at the time, no other wild jaguar specimens were known to reside anywhere in the U.S. Then, in 2016, a trail camera in Fort Huachua, Arizona took some snapshots of what looks like a different male. “We are examining photographic evidence to determine if we’re seeing a new cat here, or if this is an animal that has been seen in Arizona before,” Jim deVos, a member of the state’s Game and Fish department, told the press. While there’s not yet an official verdict on whether it’s El Jefe or there’s a new cat in town, you can compare these photos and draw your own conclusions.

2. JAGUARS HAVE DISPROPORTIONATELY STRONG BITES.

“Pound for pound, jaguars pack a stronger punch” than a lion or tiger, says biologist Adam Hardstone-Rose. Back in 2012, Hardstone-Rose co-authored a study that compared the standard bite forces of nine cat species. The data showed that, in terms of sheer power, jaguars can’t compete with tigers, who exert 25 percent more force when chomping down. But proportionately speaking, the smaller felines wield the most powerful bite of any big cat. “The strength of [its] jaw muscles, relative to weight, are slightly stronger than those of other cats. In addition—also relative to weight—its jaws are slightly shorter, which increases the leverage for biting,” Hardstone-Rose explains.

3. THIS MAKES THEM BRUTALLY EFFECTIVE KILLING MACHINES.

Jaguars aren’t finicky. They’ll eat just about any animal they can overpower. Fish, birds, deer, armadillos, peccaries, porcupines, tapirs, capybaras, anacondas, caimans, and nesting sea turtles are just a few of the jaguar’s dinner options. Armadillos, caimans, and sea turtles are all heavily armored creatures whose hides are tough enough to repel most would-be predators, but jaguars aren’t daunted: They know where to bite down. Some big cats, like lions, tend to kill by suffocation, biting the windpipe area of the victim’s neck until it asphyxiates. Jaguars take a different approach. When one of these spotted felines goes in for the kill, it generally delivers a swift, powerful bite to the back of target’s head right where the skull meets the spinal cord. With crushing force, the jaguar’s teeth are driven into the neck vertebrae. If all goes well, the bite will efficiently incapacitate the prey animal.

4. JAGUARS WILL TAKE ON BEARS.

To quote Sir David Attenborough, the jaguar is “a killer of killers,” hunting some pretty dangerous game. Consider El Jefe, who has eaten at least one bear. Last year, wildlife biologist Chris Bugbee was leading Mayke,…

Fun Facts About Goldfish

It may not be the cutest, cuddliest, or the most exotic animal to have in your home, but there’s something about the goldfish that appeals to pet owners around the world. These descendants of the Prussian carp were first domesticated in China 2000 years ago. Mutations produced fish with brilliantly colored scales, and after years of breeding, the pet store staple we know today was born. Here are some facts about the iconic pet worth knowing.

1. THE CLASSIC GOLDFISH WAS ALMOST YELLOW.

Goldfish come in many shades, but it’s the orange variety that’s most closely associated with the species. This may not have been the case if it wasn’t for a rule enforced during the Song Dynasty. By 1162 CE, goldfish ponds were en vogue, and the empress at the time had her own built and filled with the colorful creatures. She also forbade all non-royals from keeping fish that were yellow, the color of the royal family.

2. THE GOVERNMENT HELPED MAKE THEM POPULAR IN AMERICA.

Goldfish became the go-to fish for American pet owners in the late 19th century, and that’s partly thanks to Washington. According to The Atlantic, the U.S. Commission on Fisheries received an import of Japanese goldfish in 1878 and decided to give them away as a publicity stunt. D.C. residents could submit requests for glass bowls of goldfish, and at the program’s peak, 20,000 pets were handed out a year. The campaign lasted through the 19th century, and at one point, a third of all households in the city owned a government-provided goldfish.

3. THEY’VE OCCUPIED THE WHITE HOUSE.

One notable D.C. resident to hop aboard the goldfish craze of the late 1800s was President Grover Cleveland. Among the hundreds of fish he had imported to Washington were Japanese goldfish. And he’s not the only president to keep a pet goldfish. After Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981, a 10-year-old from New York sent him a goldfish named Ronald Reagan the Second with the note, “I hope you get better and to help you get better, here is a companion … Just feed him daily and he’ll be fine.” (White House staffers put the…

Wait- Do People Really Fish With Dynamite?

Kyle S. asks: Do people really fish with dynamite like they show in movies?

dynamite-fishing

Fishing with dynamite, or blast fishing as it’s more accurately known, despite sounding like something more suited to a Looney Tunes cartoon, is a genuine and well-documented practice that is still commonplace in select areas of the globe today. This is more than a little unfortunate for the many fish and marine animals that call the oceans and lakes their home due to the invariably cataclysmic impact the practice has on local aquatic ecosystems.

Exactly when blast fishing first began is hard to pinpoint, but it should come as no surprise that it seems to have become popular within decades of dynamite being invented in 1867 (incidentally invented by Alfred Nobel, known today for the Nobel Prizes, but in his time as “the merchant of death”). While someone probably fished using improvised or homemade explosives prior to the invention of dynamite, the creation of a commercially available, relatively safe to handle and inexpensive explosive made it an option for the wider public.

As for the first documented references to this method of fishing, while it is certain that there were many earlier instances, the first we could find was an 1894 reference to a man being arrested for the crime of blast fishing, as reported in the New York Democratic Herald:

John Tickwich was arrested at Binnewater for destroying fish in one of the Binnewater lakes with dynamite. He had just exploded a number of cartridges, killing several hundred fish, and was gathering them into his boat when arrested. The prisoner will be taken before the State Game Protectors of Albany. Five years is the penalty for the crime.

Another early reference to blast fishing likewise comes from it being banned, this time in Hong Kong. In 1898, the government asked fishermen to stop blast fishing and that the fisherman police themselves over the matter. The governor also issued the following statement to fishermen: “The practice of fishing by means of dynamite is unnecessarily destructive and contrary to the spirit of true sport.”

As you might imagine, little seems to have changed as a result of this request, so the government stepped up their game on the issue, officially outlawing blast fishing in Hong Kong in 1903.

Despite the governments of the world seemingly realising blast fishing was a bad idea pretty much right from the start, this method of fishing’s popularity quite literally exploded throughout the world thanks to WW1 and WW2. Soldiers from both sides of each conflict made extensive use of explosives in fishing while stationed in foreign countries, a practice locals took notice of and copied. As an example of this, Japanese soldiers stationed in the Pacific during World War 2 are noted to have given out hand grenades to locals to be used for fishing. In return, the locals were required to share the fish they’d catch with the soldiers.

As a result of this, many Pacific islanders became incredibly adept in the handling of various explosive devices. This is knowledge they put to use after the war, taking advantage of the numerous explosives left behind to construct their own makeshift fishing bombs. For instance, on the small island nation of Palau, even as late as the 1960s, huts could be found containing large caches of undetonated WW2 explosives, with the compounds within the devices, or the devices themselves, slated to be later used for fishing.

As the availability of unused munitions from World War 2 dwindled, the islanders began to use more commercially available explosives or, more often for small time fishermen, simply constructed their…