Local News

Fish finding shelter in artificial reefs as they move north

Posted November 26, 2019 3:26 p.m. EST
Updated November 26, 2019 8:39 p.m. EST

— It's hard to tell while enjoying a day at the beach. Waves tend to look like waves and most things appear to be as the always have been.

WUNC reporter Jay Price recently went offshore, where the change beneath the surface is clear.

"There are all of these things going on underneath that and we don't think about them except maybe the things we are going to be eating for dinner," Price said.

There have been a lot of studies showing how commercial fish, that fish on our dinner plates, have been moving north. Not as much is known about tropical fish, the kind of fish traditionally found hanging out in coral reefs near Florida.


Those paying attention have noticed an increase off the North Carolina coast.

"Fish can move quickly. They can move in a matter of days," Price said.

And that's what scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are now looking at.

"They are studying which species are attracted to what and one of the things they noticed is a lot of these sub tropical and tropical species that in many cases folks believe might be moving north they are seeing them be more attracted to the ship wrecks than the rocky reefs," Price said.

The researchers looked at two specific shipwrecks off the coast during a recent mission. They found plenty of sharks and a great deal of Spanish Hog Fish which are normally much farther south.

"They are taking essentially an underwater drone that is tethered to and kind of steering that around the wrecks," Price said.

Research studies how fish move north

The idea is to get a better feel of what these fish want and need as they migrate. The research will be used to help policy makers understand what is happening beneath the surface and if anything can be done to help preserve our oceans resources.

"If they are moving north they may be using wrecks to do it and they may be the only way. You can call it underwater Airbnbs or whatever you want but it might be the only way that they can move," Price said.

And traveling to these depths is really the only way to find out.

Price was on the recent mission off the coast. You can listen to his story by clicking here to learn more about the research.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.