Ocean historians affiliated with the Census of Marine Life have painted the first detailed portrait of a burst of fishing from 1900 to 1950 that preceded the collapse of once abundant bluefin tuna populations off the coasts of northern Europe.
The chronicle of decimation of the bluefin tuna population in the North Atlantic is being published as other affiliated researchers release the latest results of modern electronic fish tagging efforts off Ireland and in the Gulf of Mexico, revealing remarkable migrations and life-cycle secrets of the declining species.
Fifty-two marine explorers from 14 countries recently completed the first comprehensive biological survey of a 10,000 square kilometer portion of the Antarctic seabed during a 10-week expedition aboard the German research vessel Polarstern. They explored icy waters as deep as 850 meters off the Antarctic Peninsula - an area made suddenly accessible to exploration by the collapse of the Larsen A and B ice shelves, 12 and five years ago respectively. Among their findings were 15 potential new amphipod species, including one of the largest ever collected, four presumed new species of cnidarians, and deep-sea species at unusually shallow depths.
The voyage was one of 14 Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) expeditions planned during International Polar Year (2007-2008). Says CAML leader Michael Stoddart of Australia, "What we learned from the Polarstern expedition is the tip of an iceberg, so to speak. Insights from this and CAML's upcoming International Polar Year voyages will shed light on how climate variations affect ice-affiliated species living in this region."
Photo: An amphipod crustacean sampled near Elephant Island, Antarctic Pensisula. © C. d'Udekem, Royal Belgium Institute for Natural Sciences, 2007.
A host of record-breaking discoveries and revelations that stretch the extreme frontiers of marine knowledge were achieved by the Census of Marine Life in 2006, highlights of which were released today.
They include life adapted to brutal conditions around 407°C fluids spewing from a seafloor vent (the hottest ever discovered), a mighty microbe 1 cm in diameter, mysterious 1.8 kg (4 lb) lobsters off the Madagascar coast, a US school of fish the size of Manhattan Island, and more unfamiliar than familiar species turned up beneath 700 meters of Antarctic ice.
Download a PDF of the Press Release translated into Portuguese .