Itâ€™s census time down in Barbados where scientists are keeping close tabs on some local fish populations. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner and this is Pulse of the Planet. The U.S. government recently created special areas to protect against over fishing and other disturbances. Those species living in this â€œprotective custodyâ€ include the Bi-color Damselfish.. Suzanne Dorsey is an assistant professor of biology at Salem College in North Carolina and studies the damselfish.
“My research takes place in a coastal and marine area that the government has set aside so that fisherman and people that are collecting or harvesting fish species donâ€™t do it in this area. So that my research looks at different habitats within or outside, outside this marine protected area. If youâ€™re going to establish a marine park, what is the best place to do that if youâ€™re looking at reproduction?â€
Dorsey compares reproduction in fish living in reefs both close to shore and further out. She marks the larvae with dye to track them and see which ones survive. It turns out inshore and offshore colonies are having their difficulties.
“And what I have been able to see is that these fish, suffer very high mortalities early on. And Iâ€™ve been able to begin to put a number to those mortality rates in the first twelve hours after hatching. Thatâ€™s very important in terms of the professional commercial fisheries. We want to know where it is that these organisms are dying particularly if we are a source of mortality on these fish. And if we can start to quantify those numbers then we are able to make more accurate predictions about how many fish we can realistically take without hurting the population.”
Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science for 200 years with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner.