Spring 2012

Seminar Home

Thursday, 24 May
4:00 SAFS 102

Peter Ward

Professor, Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington

The global nautilus fishery: sustainable or in free-fall?


In 2010, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service was requested by two US citizens to consider bringing the case of Nautilus spp. to the next international CITES meeting. To determine whether this was appropriate (or needed), FWS assigned one of its staff scientists to determine the amount of trade in Nautilus shells, entering the US as whole or piecemeal in jewelry. The officer assigned, Dr. Patricia DeAngelis, discovered that over 500,000 Nautilus shells (whole or part) were imported into the US between 2006 and 2010. Based on this number, FWS produced funds for a first ever determination of nautilus stock numbers. At the same time, a PhD student at University of Queensland in Australia completed a tagging/BRUVS study of an offshore seamount that was known to harbor Nautilus. This student was enlisted to help in stock determination for the Great Barrier Reef, and to that end I was requested to undertake research expeditions to both the GBR and southern Philippines. In this talk I will present results of those two field studies, as well as present videos from 300m that document for the first time the interaction between Nautilus and giant groupers which appear to be plentiful down there. Because of the long period to sexual maturity (15 years) and low fecundity (15 eggs per year per female), Nautilus appears to be a prime candidate for local extinction through overfishing, and indeed this appears to have already taken place in the Philippine Islands.


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Aquatic & Fishery Sciences Home

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