Francisco Chavez, a biological oceanographer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and lead author of the study, combined a hundred years of data on physical oceanography, marine biology, and meteorology to examine long-term cycles in different parts of the Pacific Ocean. He points out that sardine catches in California, Japan and Peru followed parallel trends, despite being on opposite sides of the ocean and facing different amounts of fishing pressure. More importantly, when sardine catches in both areas went bust, anchovy catches boomed. Chavez's research indicates that this alternation between a "sardine regime" and an "anchovy regime" involves much more than just fisheries. As he puts it, "Fish in many parts of the Pacific are marching to the same drummer. This same drummer is causing changes in ocean circulation and in the global carbon cycle. What we've been trying to find out is, what is the drummer, and is the beat going to change?"
To this end, Chavez gathered data from fellow scientists, not just on fisheries biology, but on sea-surface temperature, elevation, and currents, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and circulation, global air temperature, and more. Despite considerable year-to-year variability, Chavez found parallel trends across the entire Pacific when he looked at three-year averages and subtracted out gradual long-term increases (such as that of carbon dioxide). These trends show that sardine and anchovy regimes altern
Contact: Debbie Meyer
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute