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Centennial Story 52: Marcus Duke (Editor/Computer Geek/Musician and 30+ year Staff Veteran)

Marcus Duke

I started working at SAFS (then the School of Fisheries) in 1979, seeking more stable income than the music profession afforded me. I was hired to do word processing—transcribing hand-written publications to digital files on 5-1/4” floppy disks (huh?!?) on a big, hulking, black machine that would shut down and wipe out the data if I looked at it askance; once, it even caught on fire. That wasn’t the only hazard: one time an intense storm literally blew the window to my office right off its hinges. Less dangerous, but more noxious, were the fumes coming from the basement when the food science crew were conducting their experiments. I remained undeterred by these minor hazards, as I soon came to realize SAFS was a great place to work.

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Centennial Story 51: Jeff Cordell (MS, 1986; Staff, 1977 – present)

Jeff at the Squamish River, British Columbia, 1996.

It is a fitting time to write something about my time at SAFS because it has been forty-two years almost to the day since I started working at what was then called the School of Fisheries (hereafter I’ll refer to it as SAFS). I was hired by Charles “Si” Simenstad in October 1977 and started at the Big Beef Creek research station, sorting out and identifying salmon diets and invertebrate samples, part of impact studies of the new Trident submarine base on Hood Canal. 

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Rise in water temperature will lead to earlier salmon hatch dates

Water temperatures affect the length of salmon incubation, including the periods between spawning and hatching, and between hatching and the emergence of free-swimming fry. In Bristol Bay, Alaska, lake temperatures are predicted to increase by 0.7-1.4°C from 2015 to 2099 at the time of the year when incubation occurs, due to the effect of human emissions of greenhouse gases. As a result, sockeye salmon in Alaska will start hatching 16 to 30 days earlier than at present, according to a new model that examined the effects of climate change on 25 populations of sockeye salmon in four Alaskan lakes. 

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Centennial Story 49: Loveday Conquest, Faculty, 1978 – 2014 (Emeritus, 2014 – present)

Loveday on the WA Coast

I was fortunate to be in elementary school when the Soviets sent up the Sputnik satellite in October, 1957. This galvanized the United States government, in addition to ramping up the US space program, to launch a variety of “new math” programs for students, including female students, a rather bold move in those days. Female students who were identified as having mathematical abilities were encouraged to pursue mathematics and other STEM fields, even without the legal backing of Title IX (which did not come into being until the 1970s). 

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Centennial Story 49: Dean Adams (BS, 1994; MS, 1998)

Dean and a Halibut

My experience at SAFS in the 1990s was nothing short of magical. I returned to UW when my livelihood in Alaska—commercial fishing for halibut and sablefish—came under threat due to overcapitalization and severely reduced fishing seasons. I needed to diversify my talents and expand my capabilities by completing a bachelor’s degree.

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Micro-slices of fish scales reveal effects of dams on lungfish diet

Australian lungfish are living fossils that have survived virtually unchanged since their appearance in the fossil record 340 million years ago. They are well known to have the nifty ability to survive for several days out of water. Now, a new study uses their scales to infer what they ate over periods of more than 50 years. The new technique first ages the lungfish by measuring radioactive signatures in the scales that track radioactivity from nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s, and then having dated micro-slices of the fish scales, each slice is examined for carbon and nitrogen isotopes that unveil their food sources throughout their life. 

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Two new species of male mouth-brooding fish described

Two new species of jawfishes (family Opistognathidae) have been described for the first time this month. These small fish have fascinating life histories, digging burrows in sandy bottoms near reefs, and relying on males to brood eggs in their mouths. Each burrow houses one fish, and they strongly defend their burrows. The first new species, Thionyi’s jawfish (Opistognathus thionyi), is found in Vitória-Trindade Chain and Fernando de Noronha Archipelago off Brazil; while the second new species, the Brazilian dusky jawfish (Opistognathus vicinus), is found off mainland Brazil. 

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Little change in polar bear numbers in the Chukchi Sea

Polar bears, like other large predators, are hard to track and count, and available data is often fragmentary and difficult to piece together. Now, a new model provides estimates for key parameters for polar bears in the Chukchi Sea off north-western Alaska, by combining available data from telemetry, marking and recapturing, and counts. The model estimates that 83% of females give birth every year, that litter sizes are 2.11 per year, and that survival is about 90% for both males and females. 

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Fish processors pay higher prices after individual quotas

Individual fishing quotas have been introduced to the Pacific whiting fishery off the US west coast, involving allocating rights to fish quota to both harvesters (80%) and processors (20%) and letting individuals decide when and how to to catch and land fish. A unique dataset of prices and costs allowed researchers to examine the impact of this change on land-based processors. 

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