All summer, I kept hearing about North Atlantic right whales being found, dead, along the Atlantic coast. Their populations already low, a record 13 were killed by collisions with watercraft or entanglement with fishing gear from New York to Nova Scotia. Why were they so close to shore? Their migrating food, a fish in the herring family, was there too. Could changing fishing practices protect them?
Atlantic Menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus)
Alternate common names:
Pogy, Bunker, Fatback
Atlantic menhaden drawing.
Courtesy: Maine Department of Marine Resources
Adult Size: 12” to 16”
Commercial Uses: Fertilizer, Omega-3 supplements, Cat and Dog Food, Bait for Larger Fish, Oil Paint, Cosmetics, Soap, Ink, Tempering Products for Steel.
Food For: Humpback and right whales, bottle nose dolphins, osprey, bald eagles, and larger fish such as bluefish, striped bass, cod.
Filter Feeders: Can filter up to 4 gallons of water per minute, eating algae and zooplankton. They can control red algae, which make up red tides. (Red tides blooms reduce oxygen and kill fish.)
Migratory: Menhaden spend the summer near the coast in New England and travel to southern, off-shore waters in the winter. Travel in schools of thousands or tens of thousands, some schools as large as a football field!
History: Native Americans and early Colonials used fish to fertilize crops, such as corn.
- http://kettlebottom.com/2017/06/02/menhaden-fishing-heats-providence-ri-upper-bay/ http://kettlebottom.com/2017/06/02/menhaden-fishing-heats-providence-ri-upper-bay/
Additional Reading: https://newenglanddiary.com/home/2qpytlf2r1vkf6o2pbislsvnt99nbt/9/26/2017