Since a lot of what happens in the oceans is hidden from view, the issues we discuss here on the blog can often be abstract and hard to visualize.
Thatâ€™s why starting today, Iâ€™ll be featuring an ocean infographic by artist Don Foley each week. These infographics also appear in Oceana board member Ted Dansonâ€™s book, â€śOceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them.â€ť
I thought Iâ€™d start with one of the most mysterious players in the ocean: fishing gear. I donâ€™t know about you, but Iâ€™ve never actually seen any of these in real life (have you?), so I find this infographic quite helpful:
Dredges catch scallops and fish by dragging across the seafloor. They can crush corals, catch sea turtles, and disÂturb all kinds of seafloor life.
Purse seine nets catch schooling fish like tuna by enÂcircling the school with a wall of netting. They can capÂture dolphins and other natural predators feeding on the school.
Trawl nets catch shrimp, cod, haddock, and other fish. Bottom trawls drag weighted nets across the seafloor, crushing corals or any other marine life in their path. BotÂtom trawls also discard more unwanted fish than almost any other form of fishing and are extremely destructive. Midwater trawls drag large nets through the water to catch pollock and other schooling fish, and when their nets are full, they may also drag on the bottom.
Gillnets are one of the most widely used methods in the world for catching salmon and sharks. When not closely tended, gillnets can entangle and drown sea turtles, seaÂbirds, and marine mammals. Some gillnets also snag large numbers of juvenile fish, which contributes to overfishing.
Read more about fishing weaponry and see a larger version of this infographic, and come back next week to ogle more ocean visuals!
This winter has been a doozy around the country, and not just for humans. On Tuesday, The Miami Herald published a letter to the editor from Oceana's chief scientist Mike Hirshfield on the effect of this year's harsh winter on sea turtles. Check it out:
Officials are calling this one of the worst years on record for sea turtle strandings in the United States. Approximately 2,500 sea turtles have been found wounded or dead as a result of cold-stunning in the increasing frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Volunteers are busily scouring the coastline for sea turtles that can be rehabilitated and eventually released back into the wild, and rescue centers are becoming inundated with sea turtles fighting for survival.
To a scientist, it all makes perfect, if unfortunate, sense. Cold-blooded reptiles like sea turtles are simply unable to warm themselves in cold water. While sea turtles are commonly found in northern U.S. waters during the summer and early fall, they typically migrate to warmer climates by late October. Unfortunately, not all of them made it out before the area temperatures dropped to unbearable levels, and with a winter like we are having, it is bound to be a deadly scenario.