“The most important fish in the sea”

Assignment 1

Word Count: 525

1. Describe how Menhaden are fished, and what the catch is later used for.

Menhaden are fishes related to the herring family. They are narrow bodied, and can grow up to a foot in length. They swim with their mouths open and act as a filter for the ocean. They travel in very large schools and can be found in the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Because of their great abundance and exceptionally high protein value, menhaden fishing have become a very profitable business. Spotter- plane pilots hired by major fishing corporations work the Atlantic and Gulf searching for signs of menhaden. One such sign is gulls hovering over the water for feeding. After the pilot spots the school of menhaden that he was looking for, he immediately radios a nearby 170 foot long ship that is waiting for the call. To prevent scaring away the menhaden, the ship avoid coming too close to the school. They get as close as possible without disturbing the school and then launch two 40-foot long boats. All this is happening under the direction of the pilot. Not before long, the two boats use a huge net to trap the school by sweeping the ocean. As this is being done, the big ship takes over by pumping the fishes into a refrigerated area where they are stored until the ship is docked. From the major effort that is used in attaining these fishes, one might think that after the ship is docked, the fishes are then cleaned, packaged and sold in supermarkets worldwide. This is not the case; in fact it is quite the opposite. Menhaden are used primarily to feed chicken, pigs, cattle, or even land animals. They provide very high protein for these animals especially chickens which are eaten by many people worldwide. Therefore, indirectly we are consuming menhaden in many of the foods that we consume, and this is one of the reasons why they are considered to be the most important fish in the sea.

3. Describe the roles of Menhaden as filter feeders in the ecosystem.

Menhaden are called filter feeders because they filter the ocean by consuming phytoplankton. Phytoplanktons are tiny aquatic plant life that promotes the growth of algae. Therefore menhaden cleans the ocean and prevent coastal and inshore waters from becoming a dead zone. Menhaden are vital to eco system in that coastal areas which act as dumpster for gulf coast and suburban lawns deposits nitrogen and phosphorus into the water which causes algae to grow at a rapid rate. When algae grow it blocks the sunlight from penetrating the ocean. As the algae grow thicker they eventually sink and cover the ocean floor which causes a dead zone. As it is clearly seen, menhaden are very crucial to our ecological system and the depletion of these animals will cause a chain reaction effect that could alter our way of life permanently. Perhaps if there would be some law that protected these fish, then they would begin to multiply and serve the purpose that they were originally intended for.