Curious news item

Discussion in 'Physiology and Biology' started by tonmo, Jul 24, 2003.

  1. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    From Charleston.net:

    Expert dives into mysteries of coral

    The curious excerpt is as follows:

    "...Many of its creatures were unknown to science until now: large red squid, single-celled animals the size of golf balls, orange-colored coral that stands 10 feet tall, sponges that look like grapefruit and coral resembling purple parasols."

    Anyone know anything more about this Cape Cod Ocean Explorer expedition?
     
  2. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Sure sounds exciting!! I like the reference to New Zealand trawling the seamounts, damaging the environment (paraphrasing what they have said). Very interesting that a US article should refer to such damage occurring as far away as NZ!

    We've aged colonies of 'bubblegum coral' (Paragorgia spp - we have 4 species in NZ waters, all having been referred to P. aborea), with the larger colonies (~ 3 metres height) having been aged at ~ 500 years (minimum age). That's 5 centuries worth of irreparable damage caused by a single trawl!

    Stay away from orange roughy (as in do not eat it)!!
     
  3. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    Staggering.
     
  4. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Orange roughy's nasty stuff anyway!! :yuck: Very bland & has a toxin just under the skin (I forget what!) so's you can't eat it more than 3 times a week (not that you'd want to!) .

    + the fish is very long lived with low fecundity (lives > than 100years) so we probably shouldn't catch it even if it didn't damage the way cooler (+older) inverts.

    J
     
  5. Sedusa

    Sedusa GPO Registered

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    What is sad to me on a personal level (besides the deep sea fish fiasco, which is also unsettling) is that given the relative merits of marine life as food sources, squid tend to pop right up there. The sustainability of such short lived creatures seems way, way more likely than deep sea fish which take decades to mature. This is of course tinted by my proximity to the squid fisheries of Loligo opalescens off the coast of California, where I live; I.E., the supposed unthreatened nature of the populations and the striking footage that one always sees of the millions of market squid spawning en masse. It seems to me, with the massive food crisis in many places around the world and the obvious damage that we as a species are doing to these populations of deep sea fishes, that pelagic squid are perhaps the best alternative for food for human beings from the sea. Now, personally I love cephalopods (obviously), and would like nothing more than for them to remain unmolested, and this strikes me as a bit of a dillemma. After reading The Empty Ocean, Richard Ellis' most recent book (as far as I know), I'm thinking even more about these matters. I had previously held the impression that aquaculture was entirely a boon - now I'm not so sure. I'd be most interested to hear what others thought about this topic - whether the harvest of pelagic squid is in fact as sustainable a resource as it seems, and what people's personal feelings on the matter are as well. I wonder if my outlook is perhaps tainted by being in a country where squid is not a preferred food? In Japan for example, where squid is massively harvested, does it still seem to be a renewable resource? We obviously need to move away from the harvesting of these long lived deepwater fish species, both for the sake of the fish populations themselves and the associated underwater environmental damage; however, short of nihilism, people must be fed and some alternative must be found.

    Anyone? I'd love to hear people's thoughts.

    Saul
     
  6. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    I don't understand why you don't think that aquaculture is a boon...are you refering to ac in the ocean, or landlocked? A lot of people buy ac'd fish here, even though it is more expensive, because it is actually fresh and consistent in quality...
    We actually have two shrimp ac's here, and a plethora of tilapia ac's...
    I do agree with all of you wholeheartedly about the trawling fiasco, very sad and short-sighted...on the positive side, Mexico has begun enforcing its shrimping bans to protect the sea-life with a vengeance, and it already shows! (they actually sunk a shrimping boat last year)
    Greg
     
  7. Melissa

    Melissa Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    Saul, Greg,

    You both write things that make me ask more questions.

    Saul, have a look at the Monterey Aquarium site's ratings of fish that is all right to eat for those concerned with the health of the ocean, and what they don't recommend. It was mentioned in another thread. Farmed tilapia, as mentioned by Greg, is a favorite for all the reasons mentioned by Jean and Greg, too - it tastes good and it seems that the aquaculture is done well, but I haven't been able to find details.

    Greg, please say more about the sinking of a shrimp boat by the Mexican government. :shock:

    Melissa
     
  8. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    There is at least one farmed fish, IMHO, that is worth it for taste alone -- i.e., catfish. It has a mild, "un-fishy" flavor and makes a great Cajun-style entrée with the simplest preparation: Wash catfish filets, pat dry with paper towels, and moisten lightly again, then dredge in a mixture of yellow cornmeal and chili powder (add salt if desired), pop in the oven till done, and you've got the main attraction of a great ethnic meal.

    (If you've got an outdoor grill you can do the more elaborate "blackened fish" thing -- I don't have the recipe, but if you do a netsearch for that phrase or for Chef Paul Prudhomme, I gar-ahn-tee you will find it online.)

    Besides, farmed fish is a lot less likely to carry parasites than the free-range kind -- as I once learned the hard way when a non-English-speaking fish store guy misheard my request for "catfish" as "codfish" (can you say anisakis worms?) :yuck:

    À bientôt,
    Mme Danaë
     
  9. WhiteKiboko

    WhiteKiboko Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    i eat a fair amount of tilapia, but dont think it has any particular taste to it...
     
  10. rrtanton

    rrtanton Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    Greg: I think Saul is referring to some concerns that are being voiced lately about aquaculture. I'm not sure about inland aquaculture though I suppose there are some concerns there as well. Open-water aquaculture, though, is the question. Escapees may be a problem if they're not native species to the area. Leftover food, plus wastes, tend to leave a very unnatural nutrient input into the surrounding environment. The dense surroundings can lead to parasites and disease, so they're sometimes medicated--again, the medications diffuse into the environment.

    I don't know how serious any of these issues are, and I'm sure they're meant to be compared to standard commercial fishing, but I think these are at least some of the questions being asked.

    rusty
     
  11. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Myopsida, you know of my concerns about the effects bottom-trawling has had (and continues to have) on benthic invertebrate fauna ("bottom filth" in fisherman terms), but are you aware of any bycatch fish species (not target species) that has decreased in number since the early 80's?

    Someone (high up) going by the initials DR (at my previous place of employment) once referred to some eel? from the deep (Chatham Rise) that had shown a marked decrease in bycatch numbers over the years, but other than this it seems to be a grey area.

    Have we any species of edible fish that could be successfully cultured in NZ waters? I know they're trying kingfish, have done flatfish, snaper (whatever happened to schnaper?), maron (sp?, that yabby thing that was disallowed years ago), and of course are doing Hippocampus, Haliotis and Perna, but I'm not aware of any present or planned large-scale fish aquaculture venture.
    Cheers
    O
     
  12. myopsida

    myopsida Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    Steve
    We only see a very selected portion of the fish by-catch and it is difficult to get an overall impression of total catch composition changes over time. There has been no standard policy of keeping voucher specimens of all species to verify identifications and hence follow trends in catch composition. This would need a more detailed analysis of the trawl data (bearing in mind that the identification skills of many of your former colleagues results in a complete mess as I have seen the same species recorded by many different names including wrong genera, even families...). My impression however, is that during the early O-roughy fishery the numbers of some by-catch species actually increased - especially scavenger species such as basketwork eels and black sharks, possibly attracted to the trawl grounds as a result of the offal discard from the factory trawlers (flesh recovery from orange roughy is around 17% max), but subsequently numbers of eels & sharks have decreased. This may be an artifact of specimens not being retained as vouchers rather than a real decline? One thing that has always puzzled me is that the very early trawl surveys carried out by Japanese vessels prior to 1970-73 collected huge numbers of ghostsharks (Chimaera, Hydrolagus, Rhinochimaera etc) for studies at VUW. Since the NZ based vessels & joint charters have been fishing in the late 70s-80s very few ghostsharks seem to have been caught, (or kept?).
    Of course this only relates to fish - it was a common practice by trawlers to "sweep" new fishing grounds before targetting the roughy to clear all those big corals which ruined the nets.
    Check out some of the books written in the 1800s about settling in NZ - they all give anecdotal accounts of the fisheries (e.g. major ling & groper fishing inside Wellinton harbour - and the mullet fishery in the Kaipara which used to export hundreds of tonnes of canned fish to the Australian goldfields) to give you some idea of the decimation of our coastal fishery.
    As far as suitable species for fish farming goes, I think its silly even to try when a few marine reserves around the coast would more than compensate for the pillaging going on - the evidence from TW's work at leigh shows a 14-fold increase in snapper (schappa)
     
  13. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    OMG! Ling fishing in DDT-laden Wellington Harbour?! :x

    You know that Bernie Napp left the Dom Post and now works for DoC. Not sure in what capacity - spin doctor maybe - but he'd be interested in following up on some of what you say (his heart is in the right place). Can you refer me to specific books/accounts (I'm not familiar with stories like this) so that I may brush up on this? I can see a sensational computer/graphic transportation back in time to 18th century Wellington Harbour, old vessels fishing for ling ....

    We're currently doing a NZ 'Sunday TV' (nee 60 minutes) special on aspects of our squid work, but they're looking at the impact(s) of deep-sea fisheries in the not-too-distant future. I'm now in a rather unique position and don't need to concern myself with repercussions of what is said (given no funding is jeopardised); I'm not sure how being outspoken would affect you (I would imagine that there would be repercussions).

    Thanks for that post. I had to go search out and listen to Andy Williams 'Yesterday when I was young' to pacify myself (sure, this might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it works for me).
    Cheers ears
    O
     
  14. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    Maybe I'm getting off-topic here, but why are eels always referred to as "by-catch"? I realize there are probably at least hundreds of species of eel, but some of them make very good eating, though that may not be the case in English-speaking countries.

    I know from frequenting ethnic restaurants around here that in Scandinavia and Japan, eel is a delicacy and IMHO a very tasty one. In smorgasbord it appears as smoked eel, and in sushi as una-ju (a.k.a. unaji or unagi). The Japanese version is broiled with a teriyaki-like sauce and served either in sushi rolls or as an entrée on rice.

    I don't know if the species listed as "by-catch" are the edible kind, but if they are, why can't they be farmed as well? That would preserve the free-range individuals while providing a market for the aquacultured ones -- everybody wins, except perhaps for the eels that end up on the table....

    Yum! :D
     
  15. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Today's bycatch is often tomorrow's target species. Once the target species is driven to commercial extinction, target-fishing emphasis changes to more common species that are found within fishable/trawlable depths.

    Tons of edible fish is discarded daily by these commercial vessels. What really shocked me was Myopsida's statement that 15-17% (I can't recall offhand which) of orange roughy flesh is recoverable!!!

    This is absolutely DISGUSTING! :x
     
  16. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    I agree. A lot of it I think is cultural conditioning as to what is and is not acceptable as food. If you asked the average Middle American (unless they came from a state such as Minnesota with a large Scandinavian population) whether they would eat eel, their reaction would most likely be, "Yecch!" Never mind that these same people eat fish, and if my limited biology background serves me, eels are basically just elongated fish.

    In many indigenous cultures, insects (such as grasshoppers, ants, and grubs of various species) and arachnids (spiders and scorpions) are commonly eaten. In the Old Testament, locusts are listed among the kosher animals, and are therefore permissible for even devout Jews to eat -- as exemplified in the New Testament by John the Baptist who lived on "locusts and honey" in the wilderness.

    IMHO, 21st century people -- especially in the western world -- need to be educated about the diverse renewable sources of nutrition, both plant and animal, that are available to them. The more diverse these sources, the less chance there is of one of them being used up or driven to extinction.

    People's minds can be changed, as history demonstrates. In America of two centuries ago, crustaceans (shrimp, lobster, crab) were literally considered garbage, to be eaten only in desperate situations when no other food source was available. Now, of course, in most parts of the US, they are far more expensive than fish, poultry, and most red meats.

    Also, when I was a child in the 1950s, very few people here ate soy products, and even the local Chinese restaurants rarely carried tofu (called bean curd back then) because Americans just weren't used to it. Soy -- like yogurt and wheat germ -- was considered an unpleasant oddity only eaten by "health nuts" or people whose doctors recommended it for medical reasons. Half a century later, soy-based ingredients are found in a vast array of snack foods and gourmet dishes, wheat germ is often used in cereals and smoothies, and yogurt is available in dozens of delicious flavors and textures.

    So I believe that the campaign to popularize more sustainable and diversified food sources should begin at the grass-roots level, i.e., making these sources more palatable and appealing, and then if demand precedes supply, the farms and fisheries will find it profitable to diversify their products.

    (I don't know macro-economics lingo so I don't know if I am expressing this correctly, but hopefully you know what I mean.)

    Me
     
  17. WhiteKiboko

    WhiteKiboko Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    could this play into the fact that during the plagues of egypt, there wouldve been a considerable increase in the amount of food available to slaves?

    as for the roughy/eel meat issue.... im surprised someone hasnt come up with a hot dog-ish solution to random meats hanging around kinda like a fish stick....hey! the undesirables could be used for fish stick/nugget/etc for school lunches... offer the companies a slight tax break to make it worth their while fiscally, and increase the food supply....
     
  18. myopsida

    myopsida Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    as for the roughy/eel meat issue.... im surprised someone hasnt come up with a hot dog-ish solution to random meats hanging around kinda like a fish stick...

    ...its called surimi - check the label details next time you buy "crab meat" or "reconstituted squid rings". Orange roughy is popular becuase its one of the few (only?) fish that you can freeze & thaw 2-3 times, keep in the boot of your car for the rest of the day and still serve it (heavily disguised with a white lemon sauce) in a top restuarant. Probably the mercury levels acting as a preservative.....
     
  19. myopsida

    myopsida Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    orange roughy is also fun if you can get some that hasn't been frozen too long - place a lump on the cat's plate at room temperature (don't worry, the cat won't eat it because of the wax-esters in the flesh, although rats will die if they eat enough of it), anyway, leave the o-roughy and get out of bed about 2am - the plate will be glowing with a blue luminescence. Nothing to do with Muroroa atol, just commensal bacteria.
     
  20. WhiteKiboko

    WhiteKiboko Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    i like reading the labels on mystery meat, but every imitation crab meat is pollock with a few other ingredients...
     

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