New technologies help us better understand fish behavior


Fishing regulations are set based on estimates of the total amount of fish currently alive in the sea.  Population estimates are derived from our understanding of how and where fish breed, how they move as they develop into mature fish, where they prefer to feed and live as mature adults.  What’s more, shifting ocean temperatures seem to be influencing these behavioral patterns. As it turns out, it has proven to be quite difficult to count fish.  In an attempt to better estimate how many fish there are in the ocean, fisheries scientists are constantly searching for new technologies that will help us better understand how fish behave in their ever-changing natural environments.

The New Bedford Times recently published an article on a new piece of technology that will hopefully reveal new data on the location of key cod spawning grounds.  As a crucial species in our local fishery, having a better understanding of where this iconic species spawns each year could allow for more effective and precise regulations that would help the cod population to rebound to healthier numbers.

Under the direction of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the MA Division of Marine Fisheries, the new technology being used to isolate previously unknown cod spawning grounds resembles a torpedo and utilizes acoustic receivers to pick up cod “grunts” under the water.  Like whales, cod communicate with one another particularly during the spawning process.  Wen combined with temperature and depth data, the hope is that with some analysis, the data collected by this new device will allow fisheries scientists to break new ground on their understanding of cod spawning patterns.

“PLYMOUTH — Half-submerged in the ocean east of Scituate, the canary-yellow glider with swept-back wings looked like little more than someone’s errant model plane. But appearances can be deceiving, especially in this electronic age where more and more sophisticated technology is being loaded into ever smaller and sleeker packages…”

You can read the whole article in the New Bedford Times by clicking here.