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Small schooling fish require carefully tailored management to balance catches and collapse risks

Forage fish are small, densely schooling fish at the heart of many marine ecosystems. These fish, including sardines, anchovies, menhaden and their kin, consume tremendous quantities of plankton and also provide abundant food for top marine predators such as larger fish and whales. A key characteristic of these species is their dramatic fluctuation in numbers between high “bonanza” periods and low “collapse” periods, which make them hard to manage. 

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Rebuilding endangered species using a stepping-stone model for reintroduction

Captive breeding programs are intended to rebuild highly endangered populations, but a major problem is how to reintroduce captive-bred individuals back to their native habitat. Often, there is low survival of reintroduced individuals compared to wild-born individuals. Such is the case for the critically endangered Vancouver Island marmot, which had shrunk to just 30 individuals in 2003. A new experiment compares survival to breeding age for three strategies: transferring wild-born individuals, translocating captive-born individuals to wild habitat, and a new stepping stone strategy that involved first transplanting captive born individuals to a safe wild area with high survival before transferring them in their second year to the lower-survival final destination. 

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Polar bears gorged on whale carcasses to survive past warm periods, but strategy won’t suffice as climate warms

Polar bears scavenge on the carcass of a dead bowhead whale that washed ashore on Wrangel Island in Chukotka, Russia.Chris Collins/Heritage Expeditions

A new study led by the University of Washington found that although dead whales are still valuable sources of fat and protein for some polar bears, this resource will likely not be enough to sustain most bear populations in the future when the Arctic becomes ice-free in summers, which is likely to occur by 2040 due to climate change. The results were published online Oct. 9 in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

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Pinpointing the footprint of trawling fishing vessels on coastal shelves

In recent years there has been a growing debate about what proportion of the oceans is fished, with estimates ranging from well above 50% to just 4%. A new paper now looks at one of the most widespread and damaging fishing types, trawling, where a net is dragged over the sea bottom to capture fish. The new method focuses on shallower continental shelves that are less than 1000 m in depth, finding that the trawling footprint varies hugely across regions from 0.4% of the area to more than 80%, with an average of 14% for all regions examined. 

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High-res data offer most detailed look yet at trawl fishing footprint around the world

A vessel known as a beam trawler sits at the dock in Milford Haven, Wales, United Kingdom.Jan Hiddink/Bangor University

A new analysis that uses high-resolution data for 24 ocean regions in Africa, Europe, North and South America and Australasia shows that 14 percent of the overall seafloor shallower than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) is trawled. Most trawl fishing happens in this depth range along continental shelves and slopes in the world’s oceans. The study focused on this depth range, covering an area of about 7.8 million square kilometers of ocean.

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Centennial Story 41: John Williams (BS, 1969; MS, 1975; PhD, 1978)

Collecting shrimp in Hood Canal on the RV Commando

John Williams (BS, 1969; MS, 1975; PhD, 1978)
I grew up expecting to attend the University of Washington as had nearly all of my close relatives (my maternal grandmother graduated in 1909.) I applied to the College of Fisheries at the suggestion of Dixy Lee Ray (high school friend of my mother) and started in fall 1965 with the intent of becoming a marine biologist. 

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Centennial Story 40: Eric Ward (PhD, 2006)

Eric standing on the bank of a river near Franz Josef Glacier

Eric Ward (PhD, 2006)
I almost didn’t make it as a biology major. During my junior year in Ecology and Evolutionary biology at UC San Diego, I realized I wasn’t very good at field work when a couple of graduate students I was volunteering for fired me. Twice. Fortunately I was saved by some ecological modeling classes that I was taking at the time from Mike Gilpin. 

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Centennial Story 39: George Pess (PhD, 2009)

Sue Johnson and Jon Moore during a sockeye salmon spawner survey on Ice Creek, Lake Nerka, Alaska

George Pess (PhD, 2009)
I never thought I would be a student at the age of 39, but there I was in Tom Quinn’s office discussing what classes to take for the fall of 2004 at SAFS. I quickly realized after having met several of my cohorts that I was by far one of the older students if not the oldest. 

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Centennial Story 35: Jason Cope (PhD, 2009)

Jason and wife Marilyn in an abandoned carnival, post-stock assessment work in Australia, 2004.

Jason Cope (PhD, 2009)
The first time I visited the SAFS, it was a misty and slightly cold Friday morning in November of 2001. I had flown in to meet with André Punt, a new research professor, about the possibility of becoming a graduate student in his lab. I was finishing up an MS degree at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in the Monterey Bay area of California, where Novembers were a bit milder and less cloudy than this introduction to Seattle. 

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