Article

Wildlife spectacle and fishery source urgently need protection

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Abstract

Wildlife spectacles are marvels of nature. They can involve brief gatherings of tens of thousands of individu-als for feeding, mating or giving birth. Examples include large nesting seabird colonies, enormous gather-ings of monarch butterflies, seasonal mass movements of wildebeest, snake congregations, turtles on nesting beaches, shark birthing areas, and bird migrations. For many species, these are key life history events that are crucial for population regeneration. Today the importance of these massive biological gatherings is widely recognised, and many land-based events receive some protection. Indeed, many wildlife spectacles are now important generators of tourism dollars. Today few large wildlife gatherings are exploited for food, but the spawning aggregations of many reef fish species are a notable exception in the marine ecosys-tem. These are exceptional in that they are still widely exploited and are rarely managed; as a result, many are disappearing. Once they stop forming, the fisheries that depend on these aggregations collapse, as has been wit-nessed in parts of the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. There is a rapidly growing recognition of the importance of protecting spawning aggregations and allowing adult fish to produce young for the future, but this is proving to be a surprisingly difficult challenge.

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