Turtles of the world: Have you seen the light?
One of the big problems in fishing is called bycatch, essentially putting a gillnet into the water and catching things other than fish.
It’s bad for everybody when that happens.
The fishing boats are catching creatures they either aren’t supposed to catch or don’t want; the animals, of course don’t like it, and it’s even bad for the nets, which can be damaged by the bycatch.
Turtles are one of the animals most often caught in gillnets, and one of the most difficult to disentangle.
But there may be a really simple way to solve that problem.
Researchers at Duke University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have worked with fishing boats in North Carolina to test out whether adding LED lights to gillnets to warn sea turtles away.
The tests show that the illuminated nets reduce the amount of turtle bycatch, without reducing the amount of fish they’re trying to catch.
So far, every light frequency and every color they try has been more effective than the no-light nets.
The researchers are also looking at whether sound might be a turtle deterrant.
If so, they may be able to use both light and sound for fishing across the world, which could help protect species like the endangered Pacific leatherback turtle.
You have to hope that the turtles will start posting reviews online about which fishing boats have the best light and sound shows, and which ones are just phoning it in.
If you’re thinking about spending some of your summer by kicking back and floating in the water, good for you.
There’s an alternative, though, that might be just as fun, if maybe a lot more difficult: the floating ball challenge.
As demonstrated by Instagrammer Thomas Wu, or infamouswu13, it involves punching a 20 pound medicine ball so quickly that it never drops to the ground. Essentially it floats on the power of the punches.
Probably not as relaxing as a dip in a pool, but pretty fun to watch on somebody’s timeline.
Floating Medicine Ball (The Awesomer)
Photo: When illuminated by LED lights, nets create a visual cue that helps sea turtles avoid becoming entangled, while at the same time maintaining the target catch and catch value for the fishermen. Credit: NOAA PIFSC.