EDF staff recently had the privilege to participate in a university-fishing industry research expedition conducted by graduate students from the University of West Florida, on Captain Gary Jarvis’ boat, the Back Down 2, in Destin, Florida.
Underwater surveys explored reef fish populations and their habitat. They were originally scheduled throughout summer, but have been sped-up to serve as baseline samples in case the oil spill spreads as far as Alabama and Florida. These may be particularly important given this weekend's news that large plumes of oil have been found at deep depths offshore.
The researchers have several objectives including exploring fish population structure and habitat and examining fish tissue and stomach contents. Their methods include use of a Remotely Operated Vehicle to view the underwater environment to identify, measure and count fish. The researchers were also studying how varyingly skilled anglers catch fish on different sizes of circle hooks.
Cooperative research has many benefits
Cooperative research trips like this one are good for science and fishing businesses. UWF researchers chartered boats out of ports in Alabama and Pensacola in the week prior, and have scheduled several additional trips with Captain Jarvis and others. The research rapidly provides much needed data on the health of fish stocks, and provides an opportunity to help charter businesses struggling with lost business from the oil spill.
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