Guy Harvey Magazine

WIN 2012

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 43 of 83

Going for rockfish out of Santa Barbara, California, means tapping into a vast, but tightly connected, ecosystem. Fifty years ago, Benko says, the blue whale was an extremely uncommon visitor to Southern California waters; it was rare to see more than one during the entire summer. By 1992, he was confident enough that he could spot a whale or two that he began to take guests onto his fishing boat two days per week to view the increasing numbers of whales in the area. Within a few years, he was conducting tours full-time, and built the special, whale-friendly boat that he uses today. Benko says that summer whale watching continues to get better each year with regular sightings of blue, humpback, fin, and other whales, with hundreds of dolphins on the side. Although the reason for increased sightings is not fully understood, some credit a reduction in noise pollution from offshore oil and gas exploration. What is significant, is that this increase is further evidence of a robust ecosystem capable of supporting the largest species on the planet. The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary marine ecosystem is home to 300,000 dolphins, along with 27 other species of cetaceans, seabird colonies, pinniped rookeries, seals, sea lions, and more. While this isn't news, it is news that this fertile underwater causeway is also a critical "hotspot" within a major, newly discovered, migratory path. Tracking Top Predators As part of the largest "biologging" study on marine life migration ever undertaken, Census of Marine Life Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) collaborators from 80 nations tracked 23 species of large Pacific Ocean predators for over a decade, including: Mola mola, a Station in Pacific Grove, California. The team was brainstorming how to use new electronic technology Barbara Block of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station had innovated to tag bluefin. She had tagged over 1,000 in the Atlantic, but this time they wanted to do something more. What if they collaborated with The Channel Islands are part of a massive interspecies annual migration pathway that scientists compare to a watery Serengeti. 2,200-pound oceanic sunfish; albacore, yellowfin, and Pacific bluefin tuna—the largest and fastest fish in the water; thresher, blue, mako, salmon, and white sharks; humpback, fin, blue, and sperm whales; loggerhead and leatherback turtles; northern elephant seals and California sea lions; Humboldt squid; sooty shearwater that breed in New Zealand and migrate 40,000 miles per year between Japan, Alaska, and California and back; Laysan albatross—one of the largest of all flying birds, with a wingspread greater than 6-feet, and the black-footed albatross. The project began with a group of 50 people in a room at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine researchers from around the world to tag multiple species of sea life in order to provide an in-depth look at species' migratory patterns and behavior through time and space? "We wanted to get beyond the one-species-at-a- time approach," Dr. Randy Kochevar, marine biologist principal investigator from Stanford University, said in a phone interview, "and ask broader questions about how does an ecosystem work; where are key habitats; where are the 'fertile valleys', the 'watering holes' within the Pacific Basin. The Atlantic had been studied a lot, but the Pacific was really wide open." The team hoped that by tracking such a diverse

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