Day 42: In Which There Are Many Foolish Looking Fish

Fisheries Management has been a delightful class, but one of my favorite things this professor does is at the top of each lecture he shows us a picture of a fish we know very little about because, “people need to know more about how many weird fish there are in the ocean”. Spoken like a fish biologist, truly. Here are some of my favorites:

top left: Pacific Spookfish. top right: Barreleye Fish
bottom left: Asian Sheephead Wrasse. bottom right: Alligator Gar.
not pictured, honorable mention just for the name: Sarcastic Fringehead

They have so many weird noses! There’s so many odd ways to be a fish!

The actual bulk of the class has been interesting too; the professor is primarily a fish biologist, so most of what he wants is to count the fish accurately and figure out where they go. We spent most of today’s lecture was looking at various doomsday headlines about the state of fisheries, and then looking at what the science actually says (in a shocking turn of events, the news tends to overstate and catastrophize the science. sigh). This lecture also had an interesting undercurrent of ”we have to eat something, and all things considered, fish is maybe not the worst choice”. There’s a bunch of fish populations that aren’t doing so hot (because they’re being overfished, mostly the tunas), but surprisingly, the bulk of fished populations are doing at least okay, by the current metrics we have. I do have some tiny concerns about the things we don’t measure, or don’t know we should be measuring, because the ocean is big and complicated and we know shockingly little about it, but still. Hurray for cautious optimism.

We spent a chunk of time earlier this week talking specifically about management strategies, which was surprisingly intriguing. The problems are no where near simple, but the granularity of the solutions that have been hacked out are astounding: this gear, for this chunk of the year, in this defined area, unless the percent of fish under this length rises above this percent, then the area closes for this many weeks. One of the big fisheries problems is bycatch (catching stuff you don’t want, and often don’t have a license for) and dumping it over the side. Dumping annoys fisheries people because it throws off all their population estimates, but you can’t pay people to bring it back to shore to get counted because then you’re paying to people to catch things you don’t want caught and they’ll start catching more of it to get paid. You can’t make them carry it back without charge, or make it illegal to have bycatch, because then it’s expensive to have made a mistake and you just drive the problem back underground. So there’s several delicate, well if you have so many pounds of fish you don’t have quota for you can sell it to the government at half-price, and that money will fund observers on boats. Or you can lease some of your next year’s quota to cover this current fish. Etc etc. They are trying to manage so many competing problems, it’s actually kind of heartening to see that solutions exist at all, never mind that they mostly work.

It is very nearly light in the mornings these days on the way to school, and I’m not sure I approve.

9 this morning! practically broad daylight

I kinda liked walking to school in dark; it felt quiet and private and restful in way daylight just doesn’t – you can see too much. I am glad to light later in the evenings, but I forgot that light in the mornings on school days also means light in the mornings on weekends, and I woke earlier than I meant to because there was any light at all in my bedroom. I can’t remember what I did last semester (it might have been just sleep curled in a weird ball or draping a shirt over my eyes, actually) but I’ve decided to make myself some curtains.

a nearly accurate star fabric (barring pattern repeats) of (roughly clockwise from top): Cepheus, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Arcturus, Heracles, Cassiopeia, and Cygnus

I spent a Very long time in the store turning and flipping and turning this fabric over and over before deciding the stars were right enough they wouldn’t bug me. In my defense, it’s actually a comforter cover and was initially inside out, which threw me for an entire loop (who fucks up so bad they print the Big Dipper backwards???), and also it doesn’t repeat as a whole pattern but as tilings of individual constellations with half rotations. It’s a little strange, but I’m having a good time with a sewing project again. If I’m feeling inspired I might make the mouse a little cape. Also somewhat depends on how long my final project about lobster fisheries takes me; we have returned to form and are once again reading a ton of scientific papers. I nearly missed it.

I’m still having a good time, and it feels only slightly ironic that I made fish chowder for dinner last night, but what are you going to do. It was up next in dinner rota, and it tastes very good with fish this fresh.

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