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Counting Fish For Science | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

Counting Fish For Science | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD


Next on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, Jonathan learns how to take a census of marine life and count fish. Hi, I’m Jonathan Bird and welcome to my world! ♪ [ MUSIC ] Ever wondered how many fish there are in the sea? Well, biologists have. Today, I’m in Rockport, Massachusetts for a special event to answer that very question. And that event is the Great Annual Fish Count, coordinated by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation. The fish count takes place worldwide, and I’ll be diving, along with with many other divers, in Massachusetts to identify and count fish. Why count fish? So biologists can learn about trends in fish populations to better understand and protect those populations. For my part of this project, I’m diving on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Other divers are spread out all over the USA, and the world. But before my day of fish counting, I stop in at Bob Michelson’s Fish Identification course. Bob is the regional director of the Great Annual Fish Count. So, we’re going to start with our top 20 species… Now you would think that since I have been diving in New England for over 20 years I would know all the names of the fish. But it turns out a refresher is never a bad idea. The morning of the big day, each diver checks in with a REEF volunteer, and gets a sheet to fill out with the day’s finds. And it’s always a good idea to listen to the dive briefing, especially when you are diving at a new site. And finally it’s time to go count some fish! I’ve got a slate and a pencil – aha – so I can write down what I see. My slate works underwater, so I can make notes as I go. I’m heading into the water with a bunch of other divers. We’ll spread out to cover a large area. Hopefully we don’t all count the same fish! As I head out to deeper water, first I cross a vast expanse of sandy sea floor. There isn’t much here. Just a bunch of drifting seaweed and some rocks. Finally I get to the bigger boulders out a littler further. There’s kelp and plenty of good places for fish to hide. This should be a good place to find some fish. I’m not taking any chances. Maybe I’ll sneak up on the fish. At last, a fish! I have found a Cunnar. I’m not that proud of myself though, the Cunnar is probably the most common fish in Massachusetts. I keep swimming, with my eyes peeled. And then ah ha! Finally some luck–a sea robin! This curious little fish walks along the bottom on finger-like pectorial fin spines and its not very common on Cape Ann. My dive buddy Mia makes a note. That’s a great find! Heading out a little deeper, Mia and I finally hit paydirt! A huge school of Pollack. Now all we have to do is count them. 1, 2, 3, hey stop moving you guys! Oh well, I’ll have to just guess and write down, I don’t know… a hundred. That sounds good. Heading back towards shore through the kelp-covered rocks, we eventually return to the sandy shallows and decide to take a look around. I find a strange pair of eyes in the sand. It’s a flounder, perfectly evolved for this habitat! A little coaxing reveals the whole fish. Nearby, another creature of the sand—a skate. This relative of the stingray has no stinger for defense. It swims along the bottom by pushing off with its pelvic fins and then gliding a foot or so, just an inch above the bottom. I’m finding some good stuff out here on the sand, but as I turn to head back to shore, I find something quite rare! It’s an Atlantic Torpedo ray! This ray has no stinging spine either, but it can defend itself by delivering an electric shock of up to 220 volts! I’m definitely writing this one down, even if nobody believes me! I keep a safe distance as the ray decides to swim off into the depths. Any animal that catches it prey by electrocuting it deserves some respect! I head back to shore, with a nice cross section of fish sightings to show for the dive. Well, that was great! We found a lot of fish – some cunner, a really big flounder, some skates, and a huge school of pollock. So now I need to get dried off and go report our dive results. We go to Stage Fort Park, also on Cape Ann, where the REEF representatives have set up base camp. To make the counts scientifically valuable, I have to fill out a form listing everything I saw and how many. I can’t wait to write down the part about the Torpedo Ray! Bob is looking pretty busy running the event, but I get a quick tour. JB: So, Bob, tell me what everybody’s doing here. Bob: This is citizen science at its best. JB: It’s a great event. How many people have we got? Bob: We don’t have the final totals yet – there are still people counting fish and surveying, but I’m expecting to end up with ninety to ninety-five divers today. It will be the eleventh consecutive year we’ve held the largest fish counting event in the United States, here in Gloucester. So I finished my dives here in Rockport, counting fish along with thousands of other divers all over the world that were counting fish today as well. And what’s really cool is to think that all this data collected will be helping scientists decide which species of fish are in decline and need more help, and which species are doing just fine. ♪ [ Music ]

46 comments

Hey Johnathan you may remember me and I want to tell you a huge thanks if you know what I鈥檓 talking about 馃槈, you are the best and it鈥檚 a true honor to be one of the first people here

Do a gear video on the Argonaut Kraken, positives/negatives to modern single hose, maybe compare benefits over older vintage double hose setups you use.

Hello! I am currently 12 years old and I would love to study and become a Marine Biologist, Im fascinated by Marine Biology! Any advice on subjects to take and any advice in general?

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First off I want to say how much I love your channel and how you can tell the time and effort you put into each one of your videos. I want to become a Marine Biologist because of how much I love marine life and your channel, but how do you keep your goggles from fogging up when you are diving?

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Jonathan and the rest of the blue world crew!!!! Just got home and on my mail box is the magaladon package!!!! Thank you guys. Thank you Jonathan. I filmed my kid saying thank you but he can鈥檛 say Jonathan properly. 馃槀 thank you so much.

Hiii!! I just received my tooth from the giveaway and I love it. I鈥檓 sure my bro will love it too! Thank you sooo much !!!!!鈾ワ笍馃寠

Jonathan it's so interesting to look our Video's and i learn english from you (i'm Dutch) and i'm 12 and saw a Barracuda in Spain and then i thought what if Jonathan saw this…You can make a video with barracuda's thanks that your doing this for us Greets from The netherlands 馃悹馃悹馃悹

I think you're a tern!!! Bird, who loves the sea, travels the world, & has a message to send us: that of how we should love & respect the ocean & all its inhabitants!!!

Finding that torpedo ray must have felt awesome!!! (though touching one would be rather shocking…)

Hey Johnathan, do you ever had the urge to pee while diving?

I can't imagine how much discomfort you get while trying to hold it in.

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