Science as Inquiry

  • Ability to do scientific inquiry (5-8, 9-12)
  • Understanding of scientific inquiry (5-8, 9-12)

    Life Science

  • Populations and ecosystems (5-8)
  • The interdependence of organisms (9-12)

    Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

  • Populations, resources, and environments (5-8)
  • Natural resources (9-12)

  • The stories of fish populations declining to dangerously low levels are all too frequent and disturbing. One species which received much media attention last year is Xiphius gladius, the North Atlantic swordfish. These fish are magnificent creatures, reaching weights of 1200 pounds over a lifespan of 25 years or more. Learn more about their anatomy, distribution, behavior, and the fishery from MI-Net (a marine education resource center linked to from our Information Centers). Unfortunately, swordfish numbers are not what they used to be. But don't just take our word for it....examine the commercial fisheries data compiled by the National Marine Fisheries Service Statistics and Economics Division, and see for yourself. Click here for instructions on plotting the fisheries data with Microsoft Excel.

    Last month, efforts were re-doubled in the Give Swordfish A Break campaign which was launched a year ago by two conservation organizations. Track the progress of the campaign and learn more about the issues. What are the reasons for the decline in the swordfish populations? How are these fish caught? You've looked at the data for pounds of fish caught per year, but what other figure might reveal more about the health of the fishery? (Hint: average size of fish caught.) What specific regulations could be adopted by fishery managers to help the swordfish recover?

    At the end of last year, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a draft fishery management plan to address North Atlantic swordfish, Western Atlantic bluefin tuna, and large coastal shark stocks. (Perhaps you'd like to investigate their numbers, too.) These highly migratory species have been identified as overfished, and the draft plan is designed to rebuild the stocks.

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