Underwater 'discos' could be the key to sustainable scallop fishing

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2 mins
28 Jul 2022
Underwater 'discos' could be the key to sustainable scallop fishing

Researchers from the University of York have stumbled upon an unusual finding...

image SGR on Unsplash

words Megan Wallace

We all like a good night out, don't we? Okay, well maybe not everyone is into going out-out, but plenty of us are. Heck, there are even early-evening club nights cropping up for ravers who like to dance but don't want to miss out on beauty sleep (guilty). Turns out, it's not just humans getting in on the nightlife action. Scientists from the University of York and fisheries consultancy Fishtek Marine have stumbled on an unusual discovery: scallops are pretty into it, too.

Yep, you read that right – let's rewind and explain. In findings published back in May, the researchers discovered that scallops were attracted to the kind of flashing lights that wouldn't be out of place at Fabric on a Friday night. Long story short, this was uncovered while the team was actually running an investigation focussed on crabs and lobster, seeing if lights could be used to replace fish as a form of a bait. To their surprise, this technique also worked on scallops, who just so happen to have over 200 tiny eyes.

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This might sound like NBD, but it's proven pretty thrilling to researchers. The co-author of the paper, the University of York's Dr Bryce Stewart even described the finding as; "One of the most exciting research findings I have been involved with in my career." The study's lead author, Dr Rob Enever from Fishtek Marine was similarly enthused, noting that; "I couldn’t believe my eyes!" While it was previously acknowledged that scallops were sensitive to light, it wasn't known that they could be attracted to light in this way – so these guys have uncovered something pretty big.

The breakthrough could have a hugely positive impact on sea life going forward. Currently, scallops are farmed using "dredging" a fishing method that can be harmful to marine habitats. After the outcome of this study, experiments are being undertaken to catch scallops with differently coloured LED lights, with a press release from the University of York describing 'underwater disco lights' as a potential breakthrough for sustainable fishing.

See? Raves are essential for a better world...

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