CHAIRE member Dr. Mark Flint and PhD student Brittany Fischer recently traveled to North and South Carolina to begin data collection for their project titled “Wild Sourced Collection of Marine Fishes for Aquariums: Assessing the Ecosystem Impact of Individuals Acquired.” Dr. Flint and Brittany were also accompanied by former graduate student Madeline Winans. The team spent the week collecting water quality parameters, surveying wild species, and performing health exams of fishes at two sites in each state as indicators of ecosystem health. The group also visited two aquariums and conducted welfare assessments of exhibits that contained species of similar niches to those they sampled from in the wild.
The research team plans to travel again in August to continue sampling wild populations and to conduct welfare assessments at the aquariums. In the future, Dr. Flint and Brittany plan to incorporate additional institutions into this project as a representative sample of the collection practices of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) member institutions to aid the organization in determining if collection strategies are sustainable.