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Evidence of fishing's impact on marine ecosystems

Research Achievements

Evidence of fishing's impact on marine ecosystems

Loren McClenachan has provided fresh evidence of fishing’s impact on marine ecosystems. She accessed archival photographs spanning more than five decades to analyze and calculate a drastic decline of "trophy fish" caught around coral reefs surrounding Key West, Florida. Her publications describe an 88 percent decline in the estimated weight of large predatory fish imaged in black-and-white 1950s sport fishing photos compared to the relatively diminutive catches photographed in modern pictures. She also documented the decline of the globally endangered goliath grouper fish and calculated the mean size of the prize catches including sharks, large groupers and other hefty fish in early photographs and their decline from nearly two meters in length in the 1950s to contemporary catches of small fish such as snappers measuring a mere 34 centimeters. The photographs revealed the average length of sharks declined by more than 50 percent in 50 years.