There May Be Plenty More Fish In the Sea

An interesting item for a Friday evening: a team of Australian researchers has come to the startling conclusion that there are 20 times as many fish in the sea as previously believed:

Scientists have vastly underestimated the number of fish in the sea – and say the majority of them have never been fished. Australian researchers found that mesopelagic fish, which live between 100 and 1000m below the surface, constitute 95 per cent of the world’s fish biomass and are untouched by fishing.

The international team of marine biologists say mesopelagic fish in the earth’s oceans constitute 10 to 30 times more biomass than previously thought. UWA Professor Carlos Duarte says mesopelagic fish – fish that live between 100 and 1000m below the surface – must therefore constitute 95 per cent of the world’s fish biomass.

A mola mola--a really ugly mesopelagic fish

A mola mola–a really ugly mesopelagic fish

They believe the finding could dramatically change our understanding of how the ocean’s operate. “Because the stock is much larger it means this layer must play a more significant role in the functioning of the ocean and affecting the flow of carbon and oxygen in the ocean,” he says.

So maybe overfishing of tuna won’t turn out to be quite the crisis we thought it was, although how good mesopelgic sushi is, remains to be seen.

This kind of thing happens all the time. You know the sort of headline I have in mind: “Earth is 1 billion years older than previously believed!” Well, maybe. But don’t count on that science being settled for long. The reality is that what we don’t know is still vastly greater than what we do know–a fact that should always be kept in mind in discussions of, and debates about, “science.”

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