17 Nov '11, 4pm

New harvest limits for menhaden has fish fans around the country smiling.

New harvest limits for menhaden has fish fans around the country smiling.

The sun shines daily on our blue (71% and rising) planet, and about 5,000 known species of tiny plants (phytoplankton) use that solar energy to transform carbon dioxide and water into sugar, fat and protein. Millions of tons every day. That’s a pretty neat trick of nature, to say the least. Slightly larger zooplankton (animals) graze on the plants, grow and pass their mass up to predators like striped bass, whales and osprey. Along North America’s Atlantic coast, menhaden (aka bunker, pogy) are arguably the most important plankton predator. People don’t eat menhaden, as the fish are small, bony and oily and have a brief shelf life. Yet each one is a rich packet of embodied solar energy and a nutritious serving for a striped bass, bluefish, osprey, whale or one of many other larger animals. Fish-science wonks call menhaden a “low trophic level species,” meaning they are at ...

Full article: http://blog.nature.org/2011/11/small-fish-makes-big-splash/

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