The Beacon

Ancient Mariners

It's easy to believe that overfishing of the oceans is a modern phenomenon, a post-WWII industry dependent on technology and globalization to clear the sea out. While it's true that the last fifty years have seen an enormous decline in marine biodiversity, humans have been effective fishers for centuries. Callum Roberts chronicles old-time fishing in "The Unnatural History of the Sea," but a new discovery too recent to be included in his book demonstrates the fishing prowess of our forebears.

According to a BBC story, the Red Sea used to brim with giant clams that grew on shallow slopes just off shore. According to the fossil record, the clams' population dramatically dropped off with the arrival of humans in the area about 125,000 years ago.

More than a hundred thousand years of overfishing? That makes the wondyrechaun seem positively avant-garde.

[Photo via BBC News]


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