In an article titled "The Sorrow Beneath the Sea" in the May 21, 2012 issue of Newsweek magazine, marine biologist Callum Roberts discusses his new book, The Ocean of Life.
What caught my eye were three pictures of charter boat catches in Key West. The first was taken in the 1950s and shows huge fish averaging 44 pounds. The second was taken in the 1980s and showed an average of 20 pounds. The third was taken in 2007 and the average was down to 5 pounds.
Only the first and third pictures are available online (see below).
Here's an excerpt from the article:
. . .
With an ever-accelerating tide of human impact, the oceans have changed more in the last 30 years than in all of human history before. In most places, the seas have lost upwards of 75 percent of their megafauna—large animals such as whales, dolphins, sharks, rays, and turtles—as fishing and hunting spread in waves across the face of the planet. For some species, like whitetip sharks, American sawfish, or the once “common” skate, numbers are down as much as 99 percent. By the end of the 20th century, almost nowhere shallower than 3,000 feet remained untouched by commercial fishing. Some places are now fished down to 10,000 feet.
Why, in the face of widespread evidence of human impact, do so many people persist in thinking that the oceans remain wild and beyond our influence? The answer lies in part in the creeping rate of change. Younger generations are often dismissive of the tales of old-timers, rejecting their stories in favor of things they’ve experienced themselves. The result is a phenomenon known as "shifting baseline syndrome," as we take for granted things that would have seemed inconceivable two generations ago.
Loren McClenachan, a graduate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, unearthed a telling example of shifting baselines in the archives of the Monroe County Library in Florida. She found a series of photographs of fish landed into Key West by one recreational fishing charter company between the 1950s and 1980s, and extended it by taking her own pictures at the same dock. In the 1950s, huge Goliath groupers and sharks dominated catches, many of them bigger and fatter than the anglers. Over the years, the fish shrink and groupers and sharks give way to smaller snappers and grunts, but the grins on the anglers’ faces are just as broad today as they were in the 1950s. Modern-day tourists have no idea that anything has changed.
Well just by looking at the fish on the left we have Groupers and Jew fish and on the right are Yellowtail and Lane Snapper and what looks like a Cobia and a few grunts or Key West Porgies.
The fish on the right don't grow that large, 10 pound max on the Yellowtails and the fish on the left are endangered and it's catch and release only so your not going to see large grouper and Jew fish on Charter Boat Row in KWF.
I have family photos from KWF in the 70's that would put the photo on the left to shame...
Yes the area is over fished but you can't make the determination from these photos due to resrtictive species and restriced fishing seasons.
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