As Monty Python would say, now for something completely different. Here is a report by Jennifer Viegas from Discovery Channel in the US, who recently reported on a paper co-authored by Corey Bradshaw (of ConservationBytes fame) and me on the problem of… shrinking fish! Specifically, a decline we had documented in the body size of whale sharks which congregate around Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, each year.
It’s actually a rather serious matter, and highlights once again the vexatious issue that there are many problems afoot due to human’s interactions with the natural world, beyond just climate change. It’s the synergy of global warming, over-exploitation for food or animal products (e.g. traditional medicines) or the pet trade, competition with invasive species, habitat destruction, pollution of waterways, etc. that is the most damaging.
Here is the story, the original of which you can read here:
Humans have over-exploited the whale shark — the world’s largest living fish — to such a degree that the ocean giants are actually shrinking in size, according to new research.
The whale shark population has also fallen by approximately 40 percent over the past decade in Western Australian waters, the new study has found, suggesting that this once prevalent shark, which can reach lengths up to 42 feet, is undergoing a severe decline in certain regions.
“We are all very alarmed at our findings, which really did defy our expectations,” co-author Ben Fitzpatrick, a University of Western Australia biologist, told Discovery News.