Category Archives: Opinions

Fishy Families

Image credit: Nick Hobgood, CC BY-SA 3.0, Image Cropped

If you’ve ever seen the movie Finding Nemo, you might’ve also heard the fun tidbit that Nemo’s dad, Marlin, should have become a female when Nemo’s mother Coral died. As strange as it may sound, this is true for many species of fish on earth. Every clownfish community has one female in charge (the only female in the community), and that female only mates with one male, the largest male in the community. The rest of the community is made up of smaller, immature, non-breeding males. When the female dies, the breeding male will become the new female, and the largest of the immature males will take the role of the breeding male. Simple enough, right? 

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Where Did It Come From, Where Did It Go: The Digital Future of Fisheries

Sometimes it is hard to look at the future with optimism. We seem to be facing crises in every facet of life, be it the humanitarian, environmental or economic side. From the ongoing pandemic to the antimicrobial resistance crisis, to climate change and the biodiversity crisis, it’s clear we need to be coming up with innovative solutions left right and centre and, just as importantly, acting on them effectively.

All the aforementioned crises directly affect one of the world’s most pressing concerns – food security. The human population is growing and with it, food demand. Meanwhile, food security is diminishing. 

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From Royal Prisons to Leaders in Conservation: A Brief History of Zoos

Zoos have taken many forms since they first appeared thousands of years ago. What started as a collection of animals purely for the sake of royal entertainment has gradually evolved into a public source of education, conservation, and entertainment. When you ask someone to picture a zoo, they no longer picture an animal behind bars. However, it’s taken a long time for zoos to become bastions of conservation from their starting point as hallmarks of animal cruelty.

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The Guilt of One Shark: The History of the “Rogue Shark” Theory

Image Credit: Sharkcrew, CC BY-SA 4.0, Image Cropped

In February 2022, a British swimmer was killed by a great white shark (Carcharadon carcharias) near Sydney, Australia. Unsurprisingly, this gained significant media attention. State authorities launched a search for the culprit, with the aim of culling/relocating it away from people. This plan would seem, on the surface, to make perfect sense – shark ate human, make it go away. Yet this logic is largely based on a widespread misconception, and an outdated theory that science has long since abandoned.

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Searching For Standouts In The IPCC Reports

Image Credit: bertknot, CC BY-SA 2.0, Image Cropped

Let’s face it, IPCC reports are never a fun read. They’re a damming assessment of our ability to take care of the only planet we’ve got. Piecing through them to find the key takeaways is likewise a tough task, but since the final report (for this round) has now been submitted, I thought I’d reflect on what I’ve learned going through each step of the report over the last year.

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We’re In The Sixth Mass Extinction Event

Image Credit: Bernard Dupont, CC BY-SA 2.0, Image Cropped

The urgency behind the most recent IPCC report has thankfully garnered it a lot of attention worldwide*. It’s a report that was very frank in its desperation for people to take this threat as seriously as possible. Yet both this report and the one that hit us in February also made mention of one other key factor that has been swept under the rug – the ability of functioning ecosystems to both mediate and mitigate the impact of climate change.

Alongside a wealth of other benefits we gain from biodiversity, ecosystems play vital roles in helping us withstand the rigours of climate change. Wetlands and rivers protect us from increased flooding. Forests help mitigate extreme heat waves. Peatlands, mires, and permafrost are all crucial carbon sinks. Yet as species disappear, these ecosystems deteriorate, as pieces of the complicated web that they’re made up of disappear. It’s why the concept of mass extinction is so frightening.

But what is mass extinction? We often hear about the concept of a mass extinction, and the question of whether we’re currently in the sixth mass extinction is constantly thrown around. So let’s have a quick look at exactly what extinction itself means, what a mass extinction is, and why it’s increasingly obvious that we’re in one.

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What The Hell Is A Species Anyway?

The Sumatran tiger, which is different from other subspecies of tiger for reasons (Image Credit: Bernard Spragg, CC0 1.0)

We’re only 3 months in, but 2022 has been a hell of a year for species-related controversy. Grolar and pizzly bears have come roaring into public consciousness, researchers proclaimed that the T-Rex we know and love is actually three different species, and soon-to-be minted Doctor Yi-Kai Tea has been sinking and raising some truly glorious fish species like nobody’s business (we call this taxonomic ha-wrasse-ment).

With the classification calamities flying thick and fast, it’s easy to wonder exactly what it is about naming a species that is so damn hard. So let’s have a quick runthrough of what a species is, why taxonomy is so damn complicated, and why it even matters.

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Persecution Without Solution: The Recent Controversies of Predator Control Across Europe

Co-existence concerns between predators and humans are spreading like climate-induced wildfires across the UK and EU, with recent headlines repeating stories of culls, conflicts, and illegal hunts; causing frustration and worry among ecologists and wildlife enthusiasts. Let’s review some of the recent controversial acts and policies surrounding predator persecution, and have a deeper look at the continuing war on wildlife and disputes between people and predators.

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