50 years of dropping catches

 
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

50 years of dropping catches

Down to Earth  
PHOTOGRAPH MONROE COUNTY LIBRARY
Down to Earth
PHOTOGRAPH LOREN MCCLENACHAN
A researcher's analysis of anglers' photographs shows fish are not as large as they used to be in the 1950s

There have been many changes in the fishing docks of West Key in Florida since the 1950s boats have changed, trousers are a little less flared and caps are tilted a little less rakishly, even the coastline has receded a bit. But anglers still take pictures to flaunt their trophies. These usually make their way to family scrapbooks.But they have allowed Loren McClenachan to confirm scientifically what has been preached for years fish aren't as big as they used to be.

In a study recently published in Conservation Biology, this graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US, analyzed fish photographs taken in Key West since 1956. She found the average size of sport fish has reduced substantially. The loss of large fish species from the top of the food chain is dangerous it can throw the system of checks maintaining diverse ecosystems out of balance. "A second tier fish species' population that was once kept in check by a top predator can suddenly explode," McClenachan said. Such large swings in species composition eventually lead to an unstable, less diverse reef community more susceptible to environmental disturbance.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.