Vacation Photos Reveal Fisheries Decline
In her recent study published in Conservation Biology, Loren McClenachan claims that recreational trophy fish caught in Key West, Florida, between 1956 and 2007 have declined in size from nearly 45 pounds to just under 5 pounds, and there has been a notable shift in the type of species landed.
Before 1960, it was common for charter fishing boat passengers to catch large grouper, sharks, and other predatory fish. In 2007, landings were composed of small snappers and sharks whose average length had declined by more than 50 percent in fifty years.
According to McClenachan, "Historical photographs provide a window into a more pristine coral reef ecosystem that existed a half a century ago and lend support to current observations that unfished reef communities are able to support large numbers of large-bodied fish."
Photo credits (from top): 1965–79 © Monroe County Library; 2007 © Monroe County Library