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Friday Fishy News - November 17


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Cornell warns hockey fans against fish tossing at Harvard game

Canadian Press - Canada.com

November 11

ITHACA, N.Y. - Throwing fish on the ice before the annual hockey game against Harvard is a tradition at Cornell University.

But for Friday's game, Cornell officials warned that fans caught with fish would be tossed from the rink.

Cornell fans have been pelting fish at Crimson players for decades. Sometimes the fish count - including the occasional lobster and octopus - reaches more than 100. Three years ago, a Harvard player was hit on the head by a lake trout.

Crimson players have come to expect the fish tossing, and line up on the far side of the ice from the student section to avoid getting hit.

"It kind of gets us going and kind of adds fuel to the fire to the weekend. (The players) like it," said Topher Scott, a junior assistant captain with Harvard's team.

Players and fans may like it, but Cornell officials don't. Fans were asked to arrive early for Friday's game so they could be searched. Those found with fish or alcohol were to be turned away.

Cornell coach Mike Schafer has never seen a Cornell-Harvard game without the fish-tossing ritual since the mid-1980s, when he was a player.

"Our administration has done a good job, because at one point in time, it was out of control," Schafer said. But despite the warnings, he said Cornell students "won't be denied" their tradition Friday.

Aquavets no fish story

High-tech surgery for denizens of the deep

By Nancy Wride

Los Angeles Times

November 14

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Dr. Lance Adams preps for surgery, snapping on latex gloves under a clear blue sky.

Nearby, a medical team wearing hooded wetsuits administers underwater anesthesia. Members of the team hoist the doped patient out of the pool and muscle her onto a makeshift operating table.

Adams, gripping sterile scissors, confers with various specialists on respiration rates and oxygen levels.

“How’s her gilling?” he calls out to his dozen colleagues clad in black rubber.

He’s about to mend a wound with the aid of boat glue, rubber bands and Popsicle sticks. A baby diaper will be employed. Also a garden hose.

In this watery wing of surgery, it takes high-tech medicine and ingenuity to give a fish a nose job.

As staff veterinarian to the 12,500 animals at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Adams is among a growing number of aquatic specialists bringing treatment more common to humans and pets into the tank.

He is almost comically stoic when describing the nose job on the freshwater sawfish, a ray whose body looks more like a shark’s. He rattles off other recent cases. Removing an eel’s tumor. Bandaging the ulcer of a sea horse. Draining the wrist abscess of a sea turtle. Using ultrasound on a sea otter.

And then there are the fake fish eyes.

Tank injuries, parasites and bites from other fish make eye injuries common, Adams said, so he and other aquatic veterinarians, such as Dr. Mike Murray at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, do the occasional prosthetic eye job.

In the past, most sick fish were pulled out of the tank and fresh fish dropped in.

“We used to call it replacement therapy,” Murray said. “Now we say, ‘Let’s fix them.’ ”

With an increasing number of aquariums, a booming commercial fish-farming trade and more collectors of pricey fish, the number of aquatic doctors has swelled in the last decade, said William Van Bonn, president of the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine. The group has 500 members.

Van Bonn said many of the roughly 30 accredited aquariums in the U.S. employed “aquavets,” as one of the trade Web sites called them. And they are inventing new ways to help animals live longer.

“The same technology that would be used to give you a tubal ligation or remove a gallbladder, we can use for sea otters, fish, birds,” said Murray.

Take the eye job, for example. Adams said that, even in captivity, if animals sense another’s vulnerability, such as a missing eye, they are more prone to attack. In short, appearance matters, even to a red snapper.

Beyond medical care for animals, Adams and Murray agreed, there is a practical need for aquariums’ exhibited animals to look healthy.

“You can’t really put a fish on exhibit with a cavity where the eyeball was. The public just won’t accept it,” Murray said.

About 190,000 schoolchildren take field trips to the Long Beach aquarium each year, and seeing animals with gaping wounds could upset them.

“Part of what we do is cosmetic,” he said.

That was true to a degree with the sawfish.

The endangered fish, a freshwater species that can also live in saltwater, has a long, square-tipped nose ringed by horizontal “teeth.” It is “unique in appearance,” Adams and you can’t show children a sawfish that lacks a saw.

The Long Beach aquarium’s sawfish was obtained by a collector in Australia, where the species is threatened by dwindling habitat. Adams thinks a shark at the aquarium that usually wouldn’t bother the sawfish may have snapped at it, fracturing the saw and hindering the creature’s ability to feed.

The operation on that March morning took place outdoors, but started before the aquarium opened. The cloth diaper, soft and water-absorbent, kept the fish’s eyes wet and shielded them from light and movement.

Just after 10 a.m., as schoolchildren began streaming into the aquarium and heading for the popular shark lagoon, Adams and his team patted their patient under a wet towel, its wound stitched up, the Popsicle sticks affixed with waterproof boat glue to the side “teeth” (they grow out like fingernails). Rubber bands held the Popsicle splints in place while the glue hardened.

The 6-foot-3 sawfish was safely plopped back into her post-op recovery room – the shallow end of the lagoon – and Adams went indoors to his infirmary, a sterile-looking white room like any other doctor’s office, to offer a tour.

Adams, 35, has a tanned, youthful appearance but a serious bearing, even when reminded that only a few hundred people in the world might utter a sentence such as “the rockfish had corneal difficulties.”

Adams never thought he would be making such remarks.

He grew up in an Orange County, Calif., suburb and worked at College Tropical Fish in Fullerton during high school. When he started college, he said, there were fewer than 20 aquatic veterinarians in the U.S. .

“It wasn’t just that I worked at a tropical fish store for a high school job,” Adams said. “I really liked fish. I think they’re incredibly fascinating and incredibly beautiful. How they live, their adaptation, their gilling, blood flow. Marine life and ocean life are … it’s another world. Like I’m getting to go to another planet.”

Adams started with a variety of internships and jobs: SeaWorld in San Diego, Denver’s zoo. By the time he finished the aquavet program at the University of Pennsylvania, Adams was convinced he had found his field. He applied for and got one of two internships at the New England Aquarium in Boston.

“There were only two people in my invertebrates class who knew anything about fish physiology, and I thought, wow, this is something I know and can do, this is my niche,” Adams said. “But I assured my parents that I had a Plan B. If the aquarium field didn’t work out, I could always get a job in aquaculture, which was just taking off. I would not be out of a job.”

In August 2001, he came to the Aquarium of the Pacific, where he works with about 15 aquarists and other staff members.

“The passion and commitment Lance brings … has elevated the quality of care,” said Jerry Schubel, chief executive of the aquarium, and Adams has inspired colleagues to find creative ways to treat animals.

And “children just love him,” Schubel added. “He has a way of relating to kids.”

Every year, the aquarium’s staff holds a fundraiser – passing the hat among themselves – to bankroll equipment they want to take better care of the nonprofit aquarium’s animals. Last year, they raised $40,000 to buy an ultrasound machine.

Adams used it recently to check out a sea otter in the aquarium’s grotto-like exhibit.

And the sawfish?

“It’s doing just fine,” he said. “It has no visible sign of an injury.”

Early Roman Shipwreck Carried Fish Sauce

By Daniel Woolls


November 13

MADRID, Spain -- A shipwrecked first-century vessel carrying delicacies to the richest palates of the Roman Empire has proved a dazzling find, with nearly 2,000-year-old fish bones still nestling inside clay jars, archaeolgists said Monday.

Boaters found its cargo of hundreds of amphoras in 2000 when their anchor got tangled with one of the two-handled jars.

After years of arranging financing and crews, exploration of the site a mile off the coast of Alicante in southeast Spain began in July, said Carles de Juan, a co-director of the project, who works for the Valencia regional government.

The ship, estimated to be 100 feet long with a capacity for around 400 tons of cargo, is twice the size of most other Roman shipwrecks found in the Mediterranean, de Juan said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Its cargo of an estimated 1,500 well-preserved clay amphoras was used in this case to hold fish sauce _ a prized condiment for wealthy Romans, he said.

For nearly 2,000 years, the 3-foot-tall amphoras lay undisturbed except for the occasional octopus that would pry one open, breaking the ceramic-and-mortar seal in search of food or shelter.

Besides the size of the ship and good condition of its cargo, the site is also important because it is so easily accessible _ in just 80 feet of water about a mile from the coast. Other wrecks are so deep they cannot be examined by scuba divers.

"I am not going to say it was on the beach, but almost," said de Juan, who was among the first divers to examine the shipwreck in 2000.

"We knew it was an important find but had no real idea until now," he said. "It is an exceptional find."

The last time a ship of this size and quality emerged was in 1985 off Corsica, he said.

Javier Nieto, director of the Center for Underwater Archaeology of Catalonia and not related to this project, also called it immensely important because of the good condition of the cargo. No other Roman shipwreck is currently under study in the Mediterranean, he added.

"For archaeologists, a sunken ship is a historic document that tells us about ancient history and how its economy worked," Nieto said from Barcelona. "This ship will contribute a lot."

This ship probably sank in a storm while sailing back to Rome from Cadiz in the south of what is now Spain. The storm must have been ferocious because it is odd for such a vessel to have been so close to shore.

"The crew did not care about the cargo or money or anything. They headed for land to save their lives," de Juan said.

De Juan and the other co-director of the project, Franca Cibercchini of the University of Pisa in Italy, presented their first report on the site at a marine archaeology conference last week in the town of Gandia, near Valencia.

When word of the find first spread in 2000, pirate scuba divers raided the site and stole some of the amphoras. This forced the Valencia government to build a thick metal grating to cover the remains and protect the jars.

What remains of the wooden structure of the ship itself _ about 60 percent _ is buried under mud in the seabed, de Juan said.

The cargo probably also includes lead, which the Romans used for plumbing, and copper, which they mixed with tin to make bronze for everything from plates to jewelry.

The fish sauce is no longer in the amphoras because the seals were not hermetic and could not withstand 20 centuries under water. But traces of fish bone remain inside and these will help researchers determine how the sauces were made, de Juan said.

Upbeat over 'Perak fish' find

By Audrey Dermawan

New Straits Times


November 15

GEORGE TOWN: Biggest is not always best, sometimes the smallest can be a source of pride, and a big scientific step forward.

Malaysian scientists have found what may be the second smallest fish in the world.

A team led by Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Biological Sciences’ Associate Professor Khoo Khay Huat here discovered the fish in a peat swamp in Perak last month. They have named it "Perak fish" while awaiting confirmation of its scientific name.

Khoo said the Perak fish measures about 10mm in length and feeds on plankton.

It lives in tea-coloured swamp waters with a pH between four and five.

Japan-based United Nations University’s Institute of Advanced Studies director Professor Datuk A.H. Zakri, an active environmentalist for the past 30 years, described USM’s find as "very significant", saying that there are an estimated 15 million to 30 million species in the world.

"But scientists have only discovered some 1.75 million to date. This find is certainly something to be very proud of," he said at a news conference yesterday.

"We are very excited about our find," Khoo said.

Scientists from Europe and Singapore discovered the world’s tiniest fish — a species that lives in peat wetlands in Sumatra earlier this year.

The fish is just the size of a large mosquito when fully grown. The record-busting species, Paedocypris progenetica, is a distant cousin of the carp.

Mature female Paedocypris progenetica reach just 7.9mm in length, making them the smallest vertebrates yet identified by a tenth of a millimetre.

Khoo said his team would conduct a comparative study in Sumatra soon to ascertain if the Perak fish and Paedocypris progenetica have any similarities.

Environment centre welcomes fish farm withdrawal



November 13

THE Northern Territory Environment Centre has welcomed a Norwegian company's withdrawal of its proposal to build a sea cage fish farm in Darwin Harbour.

Marine Harvest had applied to the State Government to build farms in Darwin and Bynoe Harbours, as well as at Snake Bay on Melville Island.

The company says it would be too expensive and take too long to establish the farms.

According to ABC Online, the Environment Centre says it will always fight against proposals for open sea cage fish farms in the Territory's waters.

Environment Centre spokeswoman, Adele Pedder, says the farms would have been dangerous for the environment.

"There's no barrier between the farm and the marine environment. All the waste goes directly into the marine environment," she said.

"Any disease risks or pest risks - if they arise - go directly into the marine environment and into native populations.

"There's just no barrier between the farm and the surrounding environments."

Ms Pedder says land-based aquaculture proposals are more feasible.

"There's inherent problems in open sea cage fish farming and we'll always oppose them," she said.

"We're certainly open to sustainable aquaculture proposals and we need to start looking more in that direction, such as closed systems and systems that are on land, that you can manage and contain any environmental impacts."

Endangered fish thrive in limited space

By Whitney Royster

Jackson Hole Star-Tribune


November 13

PINEDALE -- When an animal or plant is listed on the endangered species list, typically its habitat has dwindled or outside influences have dramatically threatened its survival.

But in a remote lake outside Pinedale, there is a different endangered tale. The Kendall Warm Springs dace, a 1- to 2.5-inch fish, is thriving in its habitat. Still, it is listed on the endangered species list. The problem? Its habitat is about 900 feet of water on the entire planet.

"Nine hundred feet in the whole world is not a good place to be," said Joe Neal, fisheries biologist for the Bridger-Teton National Forest's Pinedale offic. "The springs are 1,200 feet, and they only live in the bottom 900 feet."

Still, there are several thousand dace "doing quite well" in the warm springs.

The fish are now up for review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency gathers new information pertinent to the fish, and evaluates its habitat to determine if listing is still warranted.

Tradition, appetite keep Marseille's 'golden' fish soup alive


November 12

MARSEILLE, France - With its mix of pungently-rich, long-simmered fish broth served with potatoes and copious amounts of fleshy-textured local rockfish, such as conger eel and scorpionfish, the Provencal dish is an inextricable part of the city's soul.

The emblematic "golden soup," formerly a daily staple for fishermen who cooked it at sea, became a family favorite but now relies on a handful of restaurants to uphold its traditions.

"It's part of the list of the city's clichés, but it's also something real," Pierre Psaltis, a Marseille native and food critic for the regional daily newspaper, La Provence, said, between slurps of broth at the bouillabaisse restaurant, L'Epuisette.

"Up to eight years ago, food in Marseille was an apocalypse," he added, referring to when he began noticing that the city's chefs had started to improve their repertoire aside from the famous soup.

Bouillabaisse, whose name may come from the French words 'bouille' which means to boil and 'baisse', meaning to reduce, may have been brought to France by Italians or Greeks, according to different versions of its origins.

The secret to making a good bouillabaisse is even the subject of classes taught at Marseille's Le Miramar restaurant.

Thirty-three-year-old chef Christian Buffa takes 'students', both locals and tourists, through the whole process, starting with picking out the right fish at the Old Port market, in an initiative introduced by the city's tourism office.

In the hundreds of years of its history, bouillabaisse appears to have proved the exception to Psaltis' 'disaster', maintaining its popularity and place in the hearts of the Marseillais.

"Including the broth, we use 80 kilos (176 pounds) of fish a day, easy," said Denis Blanc, head chef at Chez Fonfon, one of Marseille's bastions of bouillabaisse.

"It's easy to make," he said. "Easy", as defined by Blanc, boils down to: "use the freshest possible fish" and "you'll need a full day on your hands to prepare it."

This may explain why bouillabaisse is now regarded as a special treat for locals and visitors alike, with a bowl at a restaurant costing about 50 euros (63.50 dollars) per person.

Chef Blanc demonstrated the lengthy process of making it by sautéing onions, fennel, garlic and fish before deglazing the whole thing with white wine and, over the course of several hours, adding fumet (fish stock), cooking it down, adding more stock, reducing again, then straining it.

Served with toast rounds smothered in a spicy, garlicky mayonnaise known as rouille, the combination creates an explosion of taste.

Finally, the fish -- Chez Fonfon's bouillabaisse includes five different kinds -- is cooked in the broth for the last 15 minutes before the whole dish is served with a good helping of ceremony, while diners spoon up a bowl of broth.

"First, you get some broth in a bowl that welcomes it," a Chez Fonfon waiter said. "The broth allows you to be able to endure the wait while your fish is being prepared," he added, with a slight smile.

The presentation, where the cooked fish arrives on a silver platter before being deboned and portioned tableside is a far cry from the soup's humble origins.

"In the beginning, it was what fishermen ate for lunch on the boat," said Frederic Rossy, a fourth-generation fisherman who docks his boat in the harbor, a stone's throw from his customers at Chez Fonfon.

"It was a dish for us, the workers."

But Rossy and his son Henri seem to understand that quality has its price.

"The fish has got to be fresh," said Henri, who works on the boat with his father, "otherwise the bouillabaisse is not good and it would be like eating old boots."

"You pay for the quality you get," he said.

Does eating fish improve brain function?

Oh my, Omega-3

By Dr Stephen Juan (University of Sydney)

The Register -UK

October 10

It is no wonder that health authorities usually recommend the eating of two or three servings of fish per week for most people. This is because fatty, cold-water fish contain healthy omega-3 fats (DHA and EPA). Rich sources of these marine omega-3 fats are sardines, salmon, mackerel, and fresh tuna.

There is some evidence to show that poor dietary intakes or low blood levels of these omega-3 fats can result in learning difficulties, behavioral problems, and mental illness. This may indicate a strong relationship between eating fish and brain development.

Sixty per cent of the brain is composed of fat - but not just any fat. DHA and EPA are good fats. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is important for normal brain and vision development. The increased intelligence and academic performance of breastfed compared with formula-fed infants has been attributed in part to the increased DHA content of human milk.

Cultures whose diet is high in DHA have a lower incidence of degenerative diseases of the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis. Some children with ADHD and poor school performance have been shown to have insufficient DHA in their diet.

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is also important in brain and eye development and function. EPA has been used to treat depression, bipolar disorder, Huntington's chorea, chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis), obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.

According to Dr Shawn Somerset of the School of Public Health at Griffith University in Australia: "No study has proved that eating more fish will make you smarter."

So it is not true that the more fish you eat, the smarter you become. If this were so, then Eskimos, who eat perhaps the highest amounts of fish as any people anywhere in the world, would all be geniuses. Yet having survived for so many centuries in such a brutally harsh environment, perhaps they are.

Fat in Fish May Help Prevent Dementia

Fatty Acid DHA May Be Key to 47% Lower Dementia Risk, Researchers Report

By Miranda Hitti

WebMD Medical News

November 13

Eating fish three times a week may cut your odds of getting dementia almost in half.

That news appears in the November issue of Archives of Neurology.

Researchers base their findings on a study of 900 older men and women. The scientists found that participants with the highest DHA levels at the beginning of the study were 47% less likely to get dementia and 39% less likely to get Alzheimer's diseaseAlzheimer's disease during the study than the rest of the group.

The researchers included Ernst Schaefer, MD, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center, at Tufts University.

DHA is short for the fatty acid docosahexaenoic. It is found in fish such as salmon, sardines, and herring, and appears important in cutting dementia risk, Schaefer's team notes.

The scientists don't promise DHA prevents the condition, calling instead for more studies.

DHA Study

The study looked at about 900 men and women, aged 55 to 88, who did not have dementia at its start.

Participants completed dietary surveys and got their blood DHA levels checked.

They then took mental skills tests every two years and were followed for nine years, on average.

During that time, 99 developed dementia, including 71 who got Alzheimer's disease.

But the participants who had had the highest DHA levels on the earlier tests were much less likely to get either condition. Those with the highest DHA levels reported eating fish three times weekly, on average.

The results take other factors -- including age and education level -- into account.

However, they don't prove DHA prevents dementia. This study was purely observational; the scientists didn't directly test DHA for dementia prevention.

Fish Factor

The study is the "first evidence" of a link between direct measures of human blood DHA levels and lower Alzheimer's disease risk, writes editorialist Martha Clare Morris, ScD.

DHA is abundant in the healthy human brain, notes Morris, who works at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center.

Fish is the main dietary source of DHA, but vegetable oil, soybeans, walnuts, wheat germ, and human milk also contain DHA, Morris notes. It is also available in supplements.

Future studies should check whether such supplements can halt the worsening of established dementia, say the researchers, and Morris agrees supplements deserve further study.


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