Fish

Fisherman Say Orcas Are Harrassing Them. Orcas Have No Comment.

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From the point of view of the Alaska Dispatch News, it’s clear who the victims are in this story: fishermen. And the perps are readily identified, too: Orcas, or killer whales. Animal lovers, not to mention vegetarians, might well see these labels flipped. It depends on who, according to you, gets to eat the fish in the ocean. It’s also a story of how crime — if it’s really a crime — does pay. The News spoke to several fishermen about what’s going on.

Orcas have been following the boats of longline fishermen in the Bering Sea off Alaska and making off with the halibut and black cod, or sablefish, caught by demersal longlines deployed on the ocean floor. Attached to each longline are shorter lines, called “snoods,” with baited hooks. (Floating elagic longlines that catch tuna and other surface fish have been criticized by Greenpeace.)

On the shallow Bering Sea continental shelf, where there’s plenty of halibut and black cod, and lots of orcas, things are especially intense.

Fisherman Jeff Kauffman tells the News the orcas are targeting specific boats, and captain of the Oracle Robert Hanson, who shot the video above, knows how that feels. In a letter he wrote to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in May 2017, he spoke of an April trip during which his boat was being “harassed non-stop” by killer whales. He says his crew lost 12,000 pounds of sellable halibut to the hungry Orcinus orcas, and wasted 4,000 gallons of fuel trying to get away from them. Another time, at the edge of the legal fishing area near the Russian border, 50 orcas showed up, and after…

Fisherman Say Orcas Are Harrassing Them. Orcas Have No Comment.

Article Image

From the point of view of the Alaska Dispatch News, it’s clear who the victims are in this story: fishermen. And the perps are readily identified, too: Orcas, or killer whales. Animal lovers, not to mention vegetarians, might well see these labels flipped. It depends on who, according to you, gets to eat the fish in the ocean. It’s also a story of how crime — if it’s really a crime — does pay. The News spoke to several fishermen about what’s going on.

Orcas have been following the boats of longline fishermen in the Bering Sea off Alaska and making off with the halibut and black cod, or sablefish, caught by demersal longlines deployed on the ocean floor. Attached to each longline are shorter lines, called “snoods,” with baited hooks. (Floating elagic longlines that catch tuna and other surface fish have been criticized by Greenpeace.)

On the shallow Bering Sea continental shelf, where there’s plenty of halibut and black cod, and lots of orcas, things are especially intense.

Fisherman Jeff Kauffman tells the News the orcas are targeting specific boats, and captain of the Oracle Robert Hanson, who shot the video above, knows how that feels. In a letter he wrote to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in May 2017, he spoke of an April trip during which his boat was being “harassed non-stop” by killer whales. He says his crew lost 12,000 pounds of sellable halibut to the hungry Orcinus orcas, and wasted 4,000 gallons of fuel trying to get away from them. Another time, at the edge of the legal fishing area near the Russian border, 50 orcas showed up, and after…

For Fish’s Sake campaign targets Thames litter

Londoners are being encouraged to stem the tide of litter into the capital’s river

A campaign, For Fish’s Sake, is encouraging people pick up and bin litter along the Thames to help protect hundreds of species of river-dwelling wildlife. The Thames is home to 125 species of fish, as well as other wildlife such as seals, dolphins and even sea horses.

Sarah Divall, Hubbub project coordinator, with items of rubbish recently found in the Thames

Displays of unusual discarded objects and the hashtag #FFSLDN are being used to raise awareness of…

Motorboat Noise Turns Fish into Deadbeat Dads

Juvenile spiny chromis in Indonesia.
Juvenile spiny chromis in Indonesia.

We’ve found a million ways to pollute the oceans, and it’s not just plastic and oil. Noise is a major problem—sonar hurts whales, for example. According to a new report published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the sound of motorboats is enough to turn some fish into delinquent parents who leave their offspring vulnerable to predators.

Male spiny chromis damselfish spend more time than females watching over their young. Researchers from the United Kingdom and Australia studied 38 spiny chromis nests in the Great Barrier Reef and tracked the behavior of the fish dads. They used speakers to play sounds of…

Seabirds use preening to decide how to divvy up parenting duties

Common murres
FAMILY AFFAIR Common murres take turns brooding their chick and foraging for fish. Preening each other acts as a health check and way to negotiate parental duties if one bird is in poorer condition, new research suggests.

Seabirds called common murres appear to use preening as a way to negotiate whose turn it is to watch their chick and who must find food. And when one parent is feeling foul, irregularities in this grooming ritual may send the other a signal that all is not well, researchers report in the July issue of The Auk: Ornithological Advances.

“The fascinating part of this study is the inference that communication between mates allows murres to negotiate the level of effort that each member of the pair puts into the breeding effort,” says John Piatt, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage, Alaska. “Reproductive success of this species requires a high degree of cooperation by each mate as they switch duties.”

Common murres (Uria aalge) lay only one egg each breeding season. Parental roles aren’t determined by gender for the birds; mothers and fathers take turns watching over their chick and foraging for fish. When one parent returns with a fish for the chick, the couple preen each other and switch roles. This swapping ceremony typically happens three to four times a day.

But study coauthor Carolyn Walsh noticed that switches don’t always go smoothly. Video of 16 pairs of murres, documenting a total of 198 role swaps, showed that sometimes both birds appeared indecisive. Each…

Parasite Living Inside Fish Eyeball Controls Its Behavior

In case you need a little more nightmare fuel, scientists have been studying a fish eyeball parasite. Diplostomum pseudospathaceum infects a fish’s eye as a larva. While the larva grows, it causes the fish to swim slower than usual, which protects both the fish and the parasite from predators. But when the larva is mature, it makes the fish swim faster and closer to the water’s surface. That’s so the fish will be eaten by a bird!

The eye fluke Diplostomum pseudospathaceum has a…

Edible Innovations: Raising Awareness About Ethical Seafood with Fishpeople

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Food Innovation Program — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.

Loaded with lean proteins and stocked with omega-3 fatty acids for both your brain and body, fish and seafood act as an excellent source of beneficial nutrients. However, parts of the seafood industry is shrouded in mystery and unethical practices. It is not always mandatory to disclaim where or how seafood is caught, and this can make consumers think twice about purchasing it.

Within the last five years, documentaries about the disreputable capture of seafood have taken center stage and racked up quite a few awards. A desire for sustainably sourced seafood is now almost as popular among the average consumer, as it is around foodies.

However, healthy protein can be difficult to cook and season, as it is not usually a part of our weekly menu. Without practice, cooking seafood just the right way, and then flavoring it so that it is both tasty and healthy can be a challenge. Ken Plasse (@kplasse), CEO of Fishpeople (@fishpeoples), strives to bring further awareness to both ethical fishing practices and cooking and handling seafood. Fishpeople wants to make all your fish meals both delicious and responsible.

Ken joined up with Fishpeople in 2015, with over fifteen years of executive experience focused on new and leading consumer products. He wanted to create a brand that the customer could both trust and love. Not only would Fishpeople be a household name for sustainably caught seafood,…