New ‘Seahorse’ sees scallops in new way

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The voluminous detail the Seahorse collects has application well beyond scallops and their habitat. Hart notes, for instance, that the Seahorse captured pictures of the struggling yellowtail flounder, and may contribute to research in that fishery. Its images of the effects of fishing gear can inform the hot, yet data-poor debate about whether fishing gear is wrecking the ocean bottom.

The Seahorse can’t replace the dredge as a sampling tool. Scientists need to actually pull up scallops to get key information, such as by studying rings on the shells (much like tree rings) to learn about their growth rates.

And Taylor cautioned that new data from the Seahorse doesn’t necessarily mean much when it comes to managing fisheries.

“I’m somewhat skeptical,” he said. “Just because you have better data, doesn’t mean automatically that better decisions are made.”

Scalloper Paul Rosonina runs a vessel that’s towed the Seahorse and has been part of its development for years. Scallop industry regulators can’t do the right thing without good information, and that’s what the Seahorse is about to him.

“You think I don’t want my son to have a future?” he said. “I want my grandson to have a future; I want my great grandson to have a future. I don’t want this to die. … I think it should be around forever.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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