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Chemical records in teeth confirm elusive Alaska lake seals are one of a kind

Five seals rest on the frozen surface of Iliamna Lake in Alaska.

Hundreds of harbor seals live in Iliamna Lake, the largest body of freshwater in Alaska and one of the most productive systems for sockeye salmon in the Bristol Bay region. These lake seals are a robust yet highly unusual and cryptic posse. Although how the seals first colonized the lake remains a mystery, it is thought that sometime in the distant past, a handful of harbor seals likely migrated from the ocean more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) upriver to the lake, where they eventually grew to a consistent group of about 400. These animals are important for Alaska Native subsistence hunting, and hold a top spot in the lake’s diverse food web.

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Ancestral sockeye salmon started in rivers and then invaded lakes

Sockeye salmon are found in many lakes and rivers in the northern Pacific Ocean, and have radiated outwards into regions formerly under glaciers during the most recent ice age. There are three main ecotypes: river-spawners (that migrate directly from the ocean to spawn in rivers); beach-spawners (that spawn on beaches in lakes) and tributary-spawners (that spawn in river tributaries that feed into lakes). 

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The US imports about 62-65% of its seafood

Global trade is much more prominent in recent years, and related statistics have been used to justify many policy positions. For seafood trade, though, it is quite difficult to piece together how much of the seafood eaten in the US was originally caught in the US. A new study now examines these complexities, finding that about 62-65% of seafood comes from foreign sources, much less than the widely reported 90% that is often cited. 

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Few of the world’s longest rivers still flow uninterrupted into the ocean

Rivers are crucial components of human well-being, contributing water, food, hydroelectric power, and transport for millennia. Yet an estimated 2.8 million dams now divide up rivers world-wide, threatening healthy river ecosystems and reducing biodiversity in stream systems, in addition to impacts on inland fisheries that supply protein to 158 million people worldwide. Now, the first global assessment of free-flowing rivers has just been published in the journal Nature. 

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Greater compliance with regulations is possible with fishery cooperatives

Fishery cooperatives are groups of harvesters that band together to jointly fish a pooled quota. They can be set up in a variety of ways, but generally are governed by agreements among members, as well as agreements with regulators that affect all members of the cooperative. One form this may take is to have the participants be “jointly and severally liable” for staying within the catch quota limits for that cooperative; in other words, the regulator can halt the fishing of all members within a cooperative if the catches for that cooperative exceed quota limits, even if the overage was the fault of just a single member. 

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Exploring Our Watery World at UW’s Aquatic Science Open House

On May 4th, the University of Washington held its second annual Aquatic Science Open House. Seattle-area families, students, and teachers were invited to explore the institution’s marine and freshwater science programs and interact with researchers. The event was organized by the Students Explore Aquatic Sciences (SEAS) outreach group based in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS) and the Academic and Recreational Graduate Oceanographers (ARGO) outreach group based in the School of Oceanography.

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Educating the next generation in marine science with examples from Deepwater Horizon

A juvenile red drum swimming against a current in a swim tunnel respirometer

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, starting 10 April 2010 and lasting until 15 July that year, was the largest in US waters in history. This highly impactful event offers lessons that can be used to train the next generation of marine scientists. In a pair of new articles in Current: The Journal of Marine Education a group of authors that include SAFS communications specialist Dan DiNicola outlines ways in which marine educators can bring the story of the oil spill to life, including assessing the impact of oil on fish swimming behavior and vision using “fish treadmills” with the aid of an online virtual laboratory; and highlighting new technological advances that came out of research on the effects of the oil spill. 

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