To you, this picture may just look like ants marching in a desert, but among ocean experts, this picture has gone as viral as Britney's shaved head. What you're seeing is an image of shrimp trawlers off the coast of China, taken from space. Those teeny, tiny specs are responsible for destroying huge swaths of seafloor and thanks to these images, which appeared in the prestigious journal Nature yesterday, scientists now have irrefutable visual evidence to prove what they could only conceptualize before.
Conservation ecologist Kyle Van Houtan of Duke University in North Carolina stumbled upon the groundbreaking images from QuickBird satellite, owned by DigitalGlobe. Van Houtan turned to world-renowned fisheries expert and Oceana board member Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, to shed some light on what he was seeing.
The long plumes of sediment churned up by their nets -- dubbed "mudtrails" by Van Houtan and Pauly -- are a highly visible sign of the disturbance to sea-bottom ecosystems that they leave in their wake. The remote-sensing imagery captures details ranging from the number of trawl nets dragged behind a boat to the white dots of seabirds flocking nearby to feast of the unwanted bycatch that is dumped overboard.
The wow factor of being able to see this kind of detail from space, is overshadowed by the "terrifying implications" of what these pictures reveal for the future of our oceans.
Check out the full gallery.
- Oceana’s New Report Highlights Uses, Benefits of Global Fishing Watch Technology Posted Mon, November 17, 2014
- Video: Humpback Whales Cause Quite the Surprise As They Hunt for Herring Posted Wed, November 19, 2014
- On World Fisheries Day, A Look at Oceana’s Work to Create Sustainable Fisheries (Photos) Posted Fri, November 21, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Humpback Whale Scars Can Reveal Migration Patterns, Sea Star Die-Offs Linked to Virus, and More Posted Tue, November 18, 2014
- Extroverted Sharks and Stressed Penguins: Uncovering Personality in Ocean Animals Posted Wed, November 19, 2014