Like the paths that many others have followed, my road to becoming a stock assessment scientist was a series of fortunate events. I spent much of my childhood recreational fishing, but never really had the goal of becoming a marine biologist, mainly because I was unaware the option existed. I moved from a little dairy farming community, where I grew up, to Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, to do a Bachelor of Science with a double major in zoology and computer science.Read more
When I was a new graduate student at Florida State University (FSU) starting an MS on ant ecology, a post-doc told me to go somewhere else to get my PhD. Why? I asked. Had I made a mistake coming to FSU? Was there something wrong with this department? No, he just thought it was a good idea to spread your educational experience across more than one university, because each has a different academic culture, and you learn something different from each.Read more
I grew up in Miami, Florida and was introduced to the world of marine biology and fisheries at a young age. Like many SAFS alumni, my introduction came with a rod and reel in hand. Most of my experiences were with my father and brother in search of whatever fish were biting during that time of year. Fast forward several years, I completed my undergraduate degree at Duke University, where I was an early admission to play soccer.Read more
Somewhere there is a picture of me about age 4, taken by my dad on a Staten Island beach in New York, standing at the water’s edge, arms in air, wind in my hair and butt naked! I think that is when I grew gills on the back of my neck and fell in love with the ocean.
Fast forward a “few” years, about a year and half after I finished my undergrad studies at University of Rhode Island (BS, 1999), and I was ready for a change.
I was accepted for graduate study at the UW during the summer of 1950. I had never been on the west coast of the US, but was immediately favourably impressed.
There were six professors at what was then called the School of Fisheries: Richard Van Cleve, head of the School, who taught population dynamics; Arthur Welander, who taught classification of fisheries; Allan DeLacy, who taught three courses, one per quarter in three subjects; James Lynch, who taught invertebrate zoology; and Lauren Donaldson, who taught three courses on various aspects of salmon culture.
Snake River salmonids are federally protected, but face a succession of dams to navigate from the ocean to the spawning grounds. The final dam in the sequence is the Lower Granite Dam. Ascending salmonids (sockeye salmon, steelhead, and Chinook salmon) all enter the fish ladders on the side of the dam, but some pass straight through and exit above the dam, while others are shunted off to one side and either released after a longer pathway, or held in tanks and sampled before being released to continue up the fish ladders.Read more
The dry northern reaches of Earth contain nearly half of all of the carbon originating in living matter, mostly stored in the frozen soils of the permafrost. It has been long thought that warming in the Arctic will result in this carbon being released from the soil and activated again, through the many lakes that are prominent features of the Arctic.Read more
In 1906 while attending a livestock fair in Plymouth England, Sir Francis Galton witnessed an interesting contest where locals were trying to guess the correct weight of a slaughtered and dressed ox (think jellybeans in a jar, but for butchers). He examined all 800 guesses and calculated the median calling it the vox populi, or “voice of the people,” reasoning that this would cancel out outliers on either side of the true answer. Astonishingly, the median guess was extremely close–within .8%–of the weight measured by the judges and closer than any individual guess. “This started the idea of the wisdom of crowds, where if you have a whole bunch of independent guesses you can average them, cast off the errant guess on either side and hone in on the right answer,” said Dr. Andrew Berdahl one of the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences’ newest faculty members.Read more
Shifting baselines is the concept that each human generation thinks “normal” conditions are those when they were growing up, and therefore only takes into account declines during their lifetime, instead of over multiple generations. A new paper now examines newspaper headlines over time to see whether declining fish size is detectable in fish described as superlatively enormous (e.g. “giant”, “huge”, or “monster”), finding declines in reports of lengths.Read more
I was pleased to receive an email from André Punt inviting me to say a few words about my over 10 years at the then School of Fisheries at the UW. Some of the recurring treasured memories I have from those years include the following:
Completing a history of the Fisheries program at the UW that began with the wife of former Dean of the College of Fisheries Richard Van Cleve (who passed away in 1984) sharing a draft history that I used as the inspiration for the book Proceeds from the book were used to support programs in the School though I’m unaware as to whether that effort of love actually raised any significant income.Read more