In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, August 9

A parent puffin must bring an average of 2,500 fish to its hatchling before it grows enough to fledge. Photo Credit: Jud Crawford.

  • New research published in Nature shows that warming oceans are leading to increased mercury levels in seafood. Between 2012 and 2017—some of the hottest years in the Gulf of Maine—mercury levels in Atlantic bluefin tuna increased by 3.5 percent. The Harvard Gazette reports, “Based on their model, the researchers predict that an increase of 1 degree Celsius in seawater temperature relative to 2000 would lead to a 32 percent increase in methylmercury levels in cod and a 70 percent increase in spiny dogfish.” Varying mercury levels results from a combination of factors, but it’s important to understand this additional climate change impact.
  • NOAA Fisheries recently released its 2018 Status of the Stocks report, which provides updates about overfished stocks and or stocks subject to overfishing. This year, Atlantic mackerel was added to the overfished list for the first time. As Maine Biz reports, commercial landings of mackerel were as high as 125 million pounds in 2006; in 2016, landings totaled only 11.7 million pounds. In total, there are 15 overfished stocks in New England and 7 subject to overfishing.
  • A new study from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute concluded that “climate change is triggering more and more surprise variations in temperatures in the world’s oceans,” reports Maine Public Radio. The temperature swings are having differing impacts on marine species, some benefiting and some not; humans are also one of the impacted species. Some of these surprise variations include the 2012 ocean heat wave in the Gulf of Maine and the 2013 Pacific Blob. Listen to or read the interview with lead GMRI researcher Dr. Andrew Pershing here.
  • Maine puffins are having a successful nesting season on the state’s remote islands. In 2018, there were 750 breeding pairs of puffins on Seal Island and Easter Egg Rock, and even more are expected this year. One reason for the success could be the abundance of prey fish that has been available, including young haddock, hake, and herring. Stephen Kress, a long-time puffin researcher with the National Audubon Society, describes puffin nesting season as a roller coaster ride, and it’s unclear if a long-term trend is developing.

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