Spatio-temporal variability of surface geostrophic mesoscale currents in the Balearic Sea (western Mediterranean) is characterized from satellite altimetry in combination with in-situ velocity measurements collected, among others, by drifting buoys, gliders and high-frequency radar. Here, we explore the use of tracking data from living organisms in the Balearic Sea as an alternative way to acquire in-situ velocity measurements. Specifically, we use GPS-tracks of resting Scopoli’s shearwaters Calonectris diomedea, that act as passive drifters, and compare them with satellite-derived velocity patterns. Results suggest that animal-borne GPS data can be used to identify rafting behaviour outside of the breeding colonies and, furthermore, as a proxy to describe local sea surface currents. Four rafting patterns were identified according to the prevailing driving forces responsible for the observed trajectories. We find that 76% of the bird trajectories are associated with the combined effects of slippage and Ekman drift and/or surface drag; 59% are directly driven by the sea surface currents. Shearwaters are therefore likely to be passively transported by these driving forces while resting. The tracks are generally consistent with the mesoscale features observed in satellite data and identified with eddy-tracking software.
Acoustic tagging is typically used to gather data on the spatial ecology of diverse marine taxa, informing questions about spatio-temporal attributes such as residency and home range, but detection data may also reveal unanticipated insights. Many species demonstrate predictable site fidelity, and so a sudden cessation of detections for multiple individuals may be evidence of an atypical event. During 2013 and 2014, we acoustically tagged 47 grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and 48 silvertip sharks (Carcharhinus albimarginatus) near reefs in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) Marine Protected Area (MPA). From March 2013 to November 2014 inclusive, tags were ‘lost’, i.e. permanently ceased to be detected within the monitoring area, at an average rate of 2.6 ± 1.0 tags per month. Between 1 and 10 December 2014, detection data suggest the near-simultaneous loss of 15 of the remaining 43 active tagged sharks, a monthly loss rate over five times higher than during the previous 21 months. Between 4 and 14 December of 2014, the BIOT patrol vessel encountered 17 vessels engaged in suspected illegal fishing in the northern BIOT MPA; such sightings averaged one per month during the previous 8 months. Two of these vessels were arrested with a total of 359 sharks on board, of which grey reef and silvertip sharks constituted 47% by number. The unusual and coincident peaks in tag loss and vessel sightings, and the catch composition of the arrested vessels, suggest illegal fishing as a plausible explanation for the unusual pattern in our detection data. A Cox proportional hazards model found that the presence of fishing vessels increased the risk of tag loss by a factor of 6.0 (95% CI 2.6–14.0, p < 0.001). Based on the number of vessels sighted and the average number of sharks on vessels arrested in BIOT during 2014, we conservatively estimate that over 2000 sharks may have been removed during the suspected fishing event. Based on average catch compositions, over 1000 would have been grey reef and silvertip sharks. Assuming a closed population mark-recapture model, over one-third of the locally resident reef sharks may have been removed from the monitoring area. The data suggest that even sporadic fishing events may have a marked impact on local reef shark populations, but also demonstrate the potential of electronic tagging a tool for detecting illegal or otherwise unreported fishing activity.
Offshore mariculture could enable increased seafood production and economic development while alleviating pressure on coastal ecosystems and wild fisheries. In the Caribbean, however, an integrated assessment of the ecological and economic potential for mariculture in the region is lacking. We assess site suitability and develop a spatial bioeconomic model to predict yields and profits for offshore cobia (Rachycentron canadum) mariculture across 30 jurisdictions in the Caribbean. We find that (1) approximately 1.4% of the study area may be technically feasible; (2) the model could avoid conflicts with other uses and sensitive habitats and protected areas; and (3) the model could be economically profitable, with the potential to produce almost half the amount of seafood that is currently harvested from wild fisheries globally. Here, we show that potential farm-scale production and profitability vary across and within countries and that accounting for the foreign investment risk associated with a country will impact estimated farm profitability.
The geometric accuracy of tens of millions of scenes of medium-resolution remote sensing (RS) images collected in the past 45 years has been systematically evaluated for land scenes, but the accuracy of ocean scenes is poorly known due to the lack of ground control points (GCPs). In this study, the locations of offshore platforms are first derived from time-series of Landsat-8 OLI images, and are then used as offshore reference points to systematically assess the geometric performance of RS images covering offshore oil/gas development areas. An inventory of 16,131 offshore platforms at the global scale is established, and then a novel method using the position-invariant characteristic of offshore platforms and the coherent characteristic of the geometric shift among tie-points (i.e. between sensed points from to-be-assessed images and the corresponding OLI-derived reference points) is developed for assessing the geometric accuracy of Landsat and other RS images. The method has been applied to 112,935 Landsat scenes (~1.87% of the entire archive) over oceans. The results indicate an optimal performance of Landsat OLI images (both pre-collection and Collection-1) but a less reliable performance of Landsat TM/ETM+ L1TP images. Approximately 50% of TM L1GS and ETM+ L1GT images have at least 2 pixels of geometric error. The new reference points inventory and the developed method were also applied to many other low-resolution and finer-resolution imagery (e.g. VIIRS Night-fire product, Terra/Aqua MODIS active fire product, ENVISAT ASAR, ALOS-1 PALSAR, Sentinel-1 SAR, Sentinel-2 MSI, the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) aerial images, and images from several Chinese satellites), and a quantitative description of the geometric accuracy of these sensors is also presented. The findings suggest that the new offshore reference point inventory is probably useful to help establish more robust offshore GCPs for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) GCP library and further improve the ongoing USGS Global GCP improvement plan and European Space Agency Global Reference Image plan.
Commercial small‐scale fishing in the Mediterranean Sea accounts for more than 80% of the commercial fishing fleet. Commercial small‐scale fishing competes with non‐professional fishing, such as recreational and illegal fishing. Fisheries statistics usually fail to report non‐professional fishing data. The aim of this study was to investigate the competition between fishing categories (commercial, recreational and illegal fishing) and their temporal variability in two future Marine Protected Areas in Tunisia. Over a 2‐year period, 213 small‐scale coastal fisheries landings were monitored. Additional socio‐economic information was collected using direct questionnaires. Results highlighted that: (a) at least 47.91% of non‐professional fishers admitted selling the catch (and so were classified as illegal fishers); (b) illegal and recreational fishing mean catch per fishers per day, represented, respectively, 40% and 20% of commercial fishing; (c) catch rates and species richness for illegal and commercial fishing followed the same temporal patterns at both locations; (d) all fishing categories fished high trophic levels and vulnerable species; and (e) potential economic values of illegal and recreational fishing catch were significantly higher than those of commercial fishing. These findings provide quantitative evidence of competition between illegal and legal (commercial and recreational) fishing in the Mediterranean Sea.
Ocean acidification and warming are known to alter, and in many cases decrease, calcification rates of shell and reef building marine invertebrates. However, to date, there are no datasets on the combined effect of ocean pH and temperature on skeletal mineralization of marine vertebrates, such as fishes. Here, the embryos of an oviparous marine fish, the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea), were developmentally acclimatized to current and increased temperature and CO2 conditions as expected by the year 2100 (15 and 20°C, approx. 400 and 1100 µatm, respectively), in a fully crossed experimental design. Using micro-computed tomography, hydroxyapatite density was estimated in the mineralized portion of the cartilage in jaws, crura, vertebrae, denticles and pectoral fins of juvenile skates. Mineralization increased as a consequence of high CO2 in the cartilage of crura and jaws, while temperature decreased mineralization in the pectoral fins. Mineralization affects stiffness and strength of skeletal elements linearly, with implications for feeding and locomotion performance and efficiency. This study is, to my knowledge, the first to quantify a significant change in mineralization in the skeleton of a fish and shows that changes in temperature and pH of the oceans have complex effects on fish skeletal morphology.
Marine litter is a pollution problem affecting thousands of marine species in all the world's seas and oceans. Marine litter, in particular plastic, has negative impacts on marine wildlife primarily due to ingestion and entanglement. Since most marine mammal species negatively interact with marine litter, a first workshop under the framework of the European Cetacean Society Conference, was held in 2017 to bring together the main experts on the topic of marine mammals and marine litter from academic and research institutes, non-governmental organisations, foundations and International Agreements. The workshop was devoted to defining the impact of marine litter on marine mammals by reviewing current knowledge, methodological advances and new data available on this emerging issue. Some case studies were also presented from European waters, such as seals and cetaceans in the North, Baltic, and Mediterranean Seas. Here, we report the main findings of the workshop, including a discussion on the research needs, the main methodological gaps, an overview of new techniques for detecting the effects of marine litter (including microplastics) on marine mammals and, also, the use of citizen science to drive awareness. The final recommendations aim to establish priority research, to define harmonised methods to detect marine litter and microplastics, enforce networking among institutions and support data sharing. The information gathered will enhance awareness and communication between scientists, young people, citizens, other stakeholders and policy makers, and thereby facilitate better implementation of international directives (e.g., the Marine Strategy Framework Directive) in order to answer the question about the actual status of our oceans and finding solutions.
Cleaning is a fundamental concern of beach managers in many destinations as well as an important requirement in beach quality awards. However, it has been largely neglected in the literature. This paper provides an overview of empirical studies on beach cleaning and analyzes cleaning-related requirements of 11 beach awards that generate controversy in the literature. This study comments on key aspects of beach cleaning, resolves various misconceptions, and provides new perspectives by integrating related topics drawn from a wide range of literature. The arguments based on both the ecological and tourism managerial perspectives are presented, indicating the gaps and proposing research solutions. The paper calls for empirical studies with regard to the efficiency of different cleaning approaches on beaches with varying levels of use intensity and for methodological designs that separate the impacts of mechanical grooming from those of trampling, dune destruction, shore armoring, artificial lighting, among others.
Coastal ecosystems support the livelihoods and wellbeing of millions of people worldwide. However, the marine and terrestrial ecosystem services that coastal ecosystems provide are particularly vulnerable to global environmental change, as are the coastal communities who directly depend on them. To navigate these changes and ensure the wellbeing of coastal communities, policy-makers must know which coastal ecosystem services matter to whom, and why. Yet, in developing coastal settings, capturing people’s perceptions of the importance of ecosystem services is challenging for several reasons. Firstly, coastal ecosystem services encompass both terrestrial and marine services across multiple categories (i.e. provisioning, supporting, and cultural) that are difficult to value together. Secondly, widely used monetary valuation techniques are often inappropriate because of culturally specific attributions of value, and the intangible nature of key cultural ecosystem services. Thirdly, people within communities may hold different ecosystem services values. In this paper, we examine how people ascribe and explain the importance of a range of marine and terrestrial ecosystem services in three coastal communities in Papua New Guinea. We use a mixed-methods approach that combines a non-monetary ranking and rating assessment of multiple ecosystem services, with a socio-economic survey (N = 139) and qualitative explanations of why ecosystem services matter. We find that people uniformly ascribe the most importance to marine and terrestrial provisioning services that directly support their livelihoods and material wellbeing. However, within communities, gender, wealth, and years of formal schooling do shape some differences in how people rate ecosystem services. In addition, although cultural ecosystem services were often rated lower, people emphasized that they ranked provisioning services highly, in part, because of their contribution to cultural values like bequest. People also expressed concern about extractive ecosystem services, like fuelwood, that were perceived to be destructive, and were rated low. We contend that comprehensive ecosystem services assessments that include narratives can capture the broad importance of a range of ecosystem services, alongside relational values and normative judgements. This exploratory approach is a useful step towards understanding the complexities of ecosystem services in developing coastal settings.
Ecological trade-offs due to different perturbations are here quantified by comparing direct impacts and net effects using fishing pressures on marine ecosystems as controlled perturbations. Results highlight that trade-offs emerge in majority of cases when evaluated through multispecies models and are independent from model complexity. Trade-offs showed a dome-shaped relationship with direct impact thus supporting the theory of positive effects of intermediate levels of disturbance. Moreover, trade-off intensity resulted to be related to the capability of the system to react to perturbation, i.e., to ecosystem resilience. Overall the work shows the benefit of complex system analysis that permits the emerging ecological trade-offs which are neglected in simpler single species analyses.