Shifting Baselines

January Wrap Up

It is already February! And I cannot believe I let so many January stories get away from me. So I would like a recap a few of shifting baselines repute now:

1) This article, Deep Sea-crets, ran in the San Diego Union Tribune about a recent expedition to explore deep undersea mounts in the Gulf of California:

What the scientists found was both exhilarating and disheartening. In some of the deeper and more remote locations, such as Las Animas, a seamount midway between the towns of Loreto and La Paz, marine life was both abundant and diverse.

Researchers recorded prosperous fish populations, including an extraordinarily rich variety of red snapper species, novel shrimp varieties and possibly several new species of sea urchins and sea cucumbers.

“Everything was amazing and surprising, said Ezcurra. “We were constantly in awe at what we found and saw.”

But they were also frequently dismayed.

Far more numerous were habitats marred by evidence of human-induced harm and environmental decline.

“It was depressing to find nylon filaments entangled in highly damaged corals, lost nets entangled in whole reefs and seriously damaging the reef biota, dozens of beer cans strewn on the bottom of the sea at depths that had never been explored before,” said Ezcurra.

“It gave me a shudder to think that way before we have the resources and the technological ability to seriously inventory these amazing places, we are already destroying them with lost fishing gear and trashing them with our garbage.”

2) A Greenpeace team visited the Sundance Film Festival and helped create some buzz for a new feature length documentary adaptation of Charles Clover’s book on overfishing, The End of the Line. Nice costumes!

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3) Also, this month, a call for tougher standards for mercury levels in fish and warnings to the public on which fish are and are not safe to eat. This is a great article by an M.D. who gives a worrying introduction to the problem:

Nine years ago, dozens of patients — some my own, some referred by fellow San Francisco physicians — began showing up in my office with similar symptoms that included fatigue, hair loss, headache, muscle and joint pain, and various neurological ailments. My effort to solve this medical mystery, and discover the thread that united these people, has led to a decade-long investigation of one of the most toxic substances on the planet — methylmercury — and a slowly growing realization that the U.S. government has taken woefully inadequate steps to safeguard Americans from this health threat.

The common link among all these patients was a regular diet of fish — and an inordinately high level of mercury in their bodies. When they stopped eating fish, their mercury levels returned to normal, and nearly all reported that their symptoms disappeared.

4) Although, sometimes, fish are naturally poisonous. Like pufferfish. Seven consumers in northern Japan fell ill last week after eating poison pufferfish in restaurants that were not licensed to serve it…

5) Fish are crucial in the oceanic carbon cycle and may be in ally in climate change, which The Sea Around Us Project’s own Dr. Villy Christensen helped to point out in a recent paper in Science. Turns out, fish excrete calcium carbonate pellets called “gut rocks” in addition to poo. The question is, given the likely increase in dead zones due to climate change, whether they fish will be around to continue doing their job.

6) Between shifting baselines, overfishing, mercury, natural poisons, and their role in sequestering carbon in the oceans, I think it is obvious we need to reduce our fish consumption, particularly those of us who know about the issues. This was the topic of Dr. Giovanni Bearzi’s recent editorial published this month in Conservation Biology aptly titled: When Swordfish Biologists Eat Swordfish.

7) Finally, check out this series of photographs taken off the coast of Mexico sent by a friend of a friend. It is awe-inspiring abundance but did make me wonder if the reduction of top predators could be leading to increases in rays (just as the removal of sharks led to an increase of cow-nose rays and the decline of scallops off the east coast)…

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Comments

  1. One of these images of the cownose rays showed up in the new National Geographic. Very cool, but like you said, possibly ominous.

    About puffers, they’re not all created equal-ly dangerous. Growing up in coastal waters in New England, we used to catch and eat ‘sea squab’ a lot and they were awfully good. Often sold in fish markets too. Tho they’re toxic, never heard of anyone being poisoned, but everyone was careful about cleaning them.

    Erik

  2. #2 Thehaymarketbomber
    February 12, 2009

    Just bloody amazing! I know that animal population sometimes take wild swings, but this is a bit scary.

  3. #3 TJ
    April 8, 2009

    The rays are quite like some of those famous Escher pictures.

    Best of luck in the new endeavor.

  4. #4 Wendee Holtcamp
    June 11, 2009

    Wow what an amazing set of photos! I’d be curious what’s behind it. Are they definitely not typically this abundant?

  5. #5 Bayram Otelleri
    June 12, 2009

    expensive wine is to understand that I have not retained in the stomach 1 hour for pleasure, I pity this much money

  6. #6 mirc indir
    August 29, 2009

    Wow what an amazing set of photos! yea:)

  7. #7 Seo teknikleri
    August 29, 2009

    Congratulations on successful work..

  8. #8 resveratrol supplements
    September 2, 2009

    Growing up in coastal waters in New England, we used to catch and eat ‘sea squab’ a lot and they were awfully good. Often sold in fish markets too.

  9. #9 banko kupon
    October 3, 2009

    thanks az parayla her zaman çok kazanın

  10. #10 bursa
    October 8, 2009

    Wow what an amazing set of photos! yea:)

  11. #11 bursa haberleri
    October 8, 2009

    expensive wine is to understand that I have not retained in the stomach 1 hour for pleasure, I pity this much money

  12. #12 bursaspor
    October 8, 2009

    Wow what an amazing set of photos! I’d be curious what’s behind it. Are they definitely not typically this abundant?

  13. #13 sodes
    February 8, 2010

    Oh my good!
    admin thanks

  14. #14 guzel sozler
    August 6, 2010

    Assuming the deal is around $20m, Rev/employee and company

  15. #15 film izle
    August 10, 2010

    It gave me a shudder to think that way before we have the resources and the technological ability to seriously inventory these amazing places, we are already destroying them with lost fishing gear and trashing them with our garbage.

  16. #16 Bolden
    October 17, 2010

    I think we are similar in that we crave story telling and stimuli for imagination.

  17. #17 Turk Sevisme
    February 19, 2011

    gooddsinene parkiten olana acayip bir yazı olumuş nedesem sişmide birazadan dulkadrırıysekmeye diereden girekden berbemasy bırakayım demid, scines blogus çokkaltile bir yapıbı var, sede bilger shifting basel anlıtnılardan çok kalıtile olmuş yeşilçan turk sevişme burada bak göre birdahla gel

  18. #18 desen resimi
    February 22, 2011

    heybire jenniferjacquet o güzelim gözlerin ellerinayakların baakların bakışların tatlı blogpu sana heryeş yakışıyor tatlıscın benim sen varya bu alemin kralısındarn bebğk tatliscik seni sen bri tanesin varya ismek desenleri resimi istanbul büyükşehir belediyesinin açtığı ücretsiz sanat meslek eğitimi kurslarıdır katıl bak gel ögern sende yap yavucucğım benim

  19. #19 Jole Tarifi
    February 23, 2011

    I’m febbica gooo gaaatt!
    what an amazing set of photos! I’d be curious what’s behind it.I know that animal population sometimes take wild swings.
    jöle tarifi.

  20. #20 turk seksleri
    February 25, 2011

    bendelereden buyorumlaran kaatılmamamkta elimden gemliory, türk ünlülerinden sevişmelerinedin sıcacaksahnelerini diretolarak bakarak görekek izletitirn mekan. turk seksleri
    About puffers, they’re not all created equal-ly dangerous. Growing up in coastal waters in New England, we used to catch and eat ‘sea squab’ a lot and they were awfully good. Often sold in fish markets too.

  21. #21 Bodrum
    April 17, 2011

    Nice Bodrum Goood;
    About puffers, they’re not all created equal-ly dangerous. Growing up in coastal waters in New England, we used to catch and eat ‘sea squab’ a lot and they were awfully good. Often sold in fish markets too. Tho they’re toxic, never heard of anyone being poisoned, but everyone was careful about cleaning them.
    Mugla Bodrum Pic

  22. #22 dr mustafa eraslan
    April 25, 2012

    I think we are similar in that we crave story telling and stimuli for imagination.