Why big fish thrive in protected oceans

University of Western Australia

Big fish are harder to find in areas sprawling with human activity, unless you’re looking in no-take marine reserves, according to a new study led by marine scientists at The University of Western Australia.

The study, published in Conservation Biology, is one of the largest of its kind and assessed the body size of fish from around Australia, using more than 22,000 baited remote underwater video (BRUV) devices and one million measurements along 10,000km of coastline.

PhD student Nestor Bosch, from UWA’s School of Biological Sciences, said BRUVs gave researchers the ability to see into areas where they couldn’t normally and enable the analysis of fish that would ordinarily be scared away by the presence of a diver.

“Our underwater analysis revealed larger fish were consistently more abundant in areas further away from human activity, across most of the country’s northern tropical reefs and coolest kelp forests,” Mr Bosch said.

“Despite this, big fish can be found within marine reserve areas, some of which are located on the doorstep of our largest cities.”

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