Anchovies swimming in a school. Anchovies are just one of the species of fish that are important to the economies of Chile and Peru.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy Wikipedia Commons
Fisheries in the Southeast Pacific Region
If you like anchovies on your pizza, there is a good chance that the little fish now swimming in tomato sauce was once swimming in the Southeast Pacific Ocean. It was probably caught off the coasts of Peru or Chile in South America. The ocean in that area has a lot of nutrients which produce lots of fish. This area is one of the most important areas for catching fish in the world.
Why do fish thrive in the Southeast Pacific Ocean? It is because of the strong winds and the upwelling from the Humboldt Current. This current brings very cold water from deep in the ocean up to the surface. The waters in the deep ocean have a lot of nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate. When these nutrients come to the ocean surface they are taken up by tiny phytoplankton. Lots of nutrients mean lots of phytoplankton. The phytoplankton are at the base of the ocean food chain. If lots of phytoplankton are available as a food source, the result will be many fish and other marine life in that area.
The fishing industry has always been important to Chile and Peru. The most important species of fish are anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and salmon.
Ocean temperatures are important to all types of fish. Anchovies like cooler water so when an El Nino event happens and the ocean water is warmer, they don't do as well. Sardines like warmer water. If the temperature of the ocean goes up due to climate change, there will probably be more sardines than anchovies. One part of the VOCALS research will be to learn how changing climates might affect the fish in the Southeast Pacific Ocean.
Fish that spend all of their lives in the ocean are called pelagic fish. Anchovies and sardines are types of pelagic fish. Salmon are called anadromous fish. This type of fish starts its life in freshwater but spends most of its life in the ocean.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
The winds in the Southeast Pacific mainly blow from south to north. They have a strong effect on the climate in the region and worldwide. The winds in this area get their start with a major flow in the...more
There are places in the ocean where water from the deep sea travels up to the surface. These are called areas of upwelling. The deep waters can have a large influence upon life in the ocean and the climate...more
Scientists know that west coasts of Chile and Peru and the Southeastern Pacific Ocean are a very important part of the global climate system. However, they don't completely understand how the oceans, atmosphere,...more
There are many connections between the ocean and the atmosphere in the Southeast Pacific Ocean. Strong winds blow north along the coast of South America. These winds stir up the ocean. That brings cold...more
What is the connection between human activity in western Chile and Peru and the Southeast Pacific climate system? Much of this region is very sparsely populated. The lack of rainfall limits where people...more
What if you wanted to learn more about the climate of a very large area of the world? What would be involved in studying how the oceans, land, and atmosphere interact? You would need to have a team of...more
Scientists use lots of data from satellites in the VOCALS field campaign. They also gather data from instruments on ships and on airplanes. When they combine data from satellites, ships, and aircraft,...more