Fish & Fisheries

The Best of Cool Green Science: Fishy Edition

December 30, 2015

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Juvenile coho salmon fatten up on sockeye eggs. Photo:  © Jonny Armstrong
Juvenile coho salmon fatten up on sockeye eggs. Photo: © Jonny Armstrong

Since the very beginning of Cool Green Science, fish stories have consistently been among the most popular (rivaled only by birds).

I admit a personal bias. I have fished and explored creeks since I was a small child, a passion that remains undimmed over the decades.

From an equally early age, I also began to recognize what we’ve lost. One of my home waters had no fish – and has not had fish for generations – due to acid mine drainage. For many rivers, we can only imagine the abundance and diversity that was once there. To me, to be an angler and not a conservationist is unimaginable.

I’ve always been somewhat of an unusual angler. I have always been somewhat uninterested in the endless discussions of gear and trophy fish that dominate much of the outdoor media. My enthusiasm is driven by the fish and their biology, and the beautiful places they are found. I want to understand the science and ecology of waters, and how to protect them.

It seems I’m not alone. The success of these posts on Cool Green Science suggests that there is a legion of fish nerds out there. For them, I hope you enjoy this selection of favorite fish posts from the past year.

  1. Smallmouth buffalo, a type of sucker. Photo: © Ben Cantrell
    Smallmouth buffalo, a type of sucker. Photo: © Ben Cantrell

    Almost everything you’ve heard about suckers is wrong. And a growing number of conservationists wants to change that, recognizing suckers as incredibly cool native fish.

  2. Male Bowfin showing spawning colors: bright green belly and paired fins. Bowfin spawn in spring, males arriving first to build nests and eventually guard eggs and young. Photo: Solomon David
    Male Bowfin showing spawning colors: bright green belly and paired fins. Bowfin spawn in spring, males arriving first to build nests and eventually guard eggs and young. Photo: Solomon David

    The bowfin has proven itself tougher than T. rex. But can it survive humanity. Researcher and fish nerd extraordinaire Solomon David takes a look at this ancient underdog(fish) and its conservation.

  3. Restoring the reefs on Lake Michigan means adding rocks -- and not just any rocks. Photo: © Matthew Dae Smith/Big Foot Media
    Restoring the reefs on Lake Michigan means adding rocks -- and not just any rocks. Photo: © Matthew Dae Smith/Big Foot Media

    These reefs may look different than those of the Caribbean, but they’re vitally important for fish. Join Conservancy scientists and partners as they seek to restore food webs and native fish populations.

  4. The Nature Conservancy and partners work to remove "ghost" crab pots from Quinault Nation waters. Photo © Kyle Antonelis/Natural Resources Consultants.
    The Nature Conservancy and partners work to remove "ghost" crab pots from Quinault Nation waters. Photo © Kyle Antonelis/Natural Resources Consultants.

    Long after commercial fishers have pulled into dock, their lost and abandoned gear continues fishing – threatening marine wildlife and habitats around the world. Can conservationists recover this gear to benefit both fish and fishers?

  5. Small bluegill. Photo © Steve Harwood/Flickr
    Small bluegill. Photo © Steve Harwood/Flickr

    You’ve probably heard that you need to catch a lot of bluegills out of a lake so that they don’t become stunted and overpopulated. And you have heard wrong.

  6. Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Photo: Yellowstone National Park, Native Fish Conservation Program
    Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Photo: Yellowstone National Park, Native Fish Conservation Program

    Ted Williams, one of the most respected voices in fish conservation, joined Cool Green Science with this column. For years, fishery managers “improved” streams by stocking non-native species. But there’s a new movement, bringing back the species that belong.

  7. Photo © Rick Lawrence
    Photo © Rick Lawrence

    Bad things when happen when rivers are dammed, and one of them is the loss of alewives. Another column by Ted Williams, this one explores what it takes to bring back this fish, a key species in many freshwater systems.

  8. An extremely stuffed coho salmon. Photo: © Jonny Armstrong
    An extremely stuffed coho salmon. Photo: © Jonny Armstrong

    Salmon rivers are one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles. And they’re even more complex and fascinating than you think. When the salmon return, there’s a party going on. Our blog gives you a front-row seat to the gluttony.

  9. Photo: © Nick Hall
    Photo: © Nick Hall

    Big Data – it’s the latest silver bullet that can spot business trends, prevent disease, combat crime, and even revolutionize the health of fisheries. Or can it?

  10. An Alabama shad. Photo: © Steve Herrington
    An Alabama shad. Photo: © Steve Herrington

    How do you tell where a shad was born? You shoot a laser into its ear bone.

Matt Miller

Matt Miller is director of science communications for The Nature Conservancy and editor of the Cool Green Science blog. A lifelong naturalist and outdoor enthusiast, he has covered stories on science and nature around the globe. Matt has worked for the Conservancy for the past 14 years, previously serving as director of communications for the Idaho program. More from Matt

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