Aquatic environments videos

1 09 2015

While developing and revising “ENVS 3450 – Aquatic Environments”, I’ve been discovering quite a few good aquatic environments videos, animated GIF files & interactive pages.  Inspired by Meghan Duffy’s Dynamic Ecology post on videos for teaching, I thought I’d compile a list of useful aquatic environments videos and share those here. Many thanks to Dr. Andrea Kirkwood who passed along great links!

The videos must illustrate an important scientific concept related to aquatic environments, and be useful for undergraduate and graduate classes. Beautiful photography and compelling storytelling also helps!

I’ve added another important criteria which is overlooked too often. The videos must be accessible through the use of subtitles and captions, published scripts or other visual cues within the video itself. This symbol (cc) indicates high quality captioning / subtitling already included in the video.

The list is far from complete. If you see missing videos or gaps below, please do let me know in the comments or send me a message via Twitter / email. I will continue updating this list. [New links will have a date next to them.]

Now, the videos and animated GIFs, loosely organized by category:

Water Science (physics, chemistry)

The Water Cycle


Limnology & oceanography (science & conservation)

Lakes & other aquatic habitats of the world

Plankton & microscopic organisms

Macroalgae (seaweed)


Macrophytes (aquatic plants)







How humans use & impact upon aquatic resources

Fisheries & overfishing:


Ecosystem impacts & manipulation

Series & Collections

Do you know of any other aquatic environment videos and animated GIFs which should be included in this list?


Great Lakes, Great Stakes! Part 1. The rise and fall of fish species.

10 05 2011

Are the Great Lakes important? Should people outside of the region care about our Great Lakes?  The Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources (IJNR) think so.

Last week, a group of American and Canadian journalists travelled around Lake Ontario on an IJNR fellowship.  Travelling on a bus rented from a Montreal hockey team, they started their journey canoeing down the Don River in Toronto. After the canoe trip, they continued along their route, stopping at various sites to meet experts and learn about environmental issues affecting Lake Ontario.

Frank Allen of IJNR invited me to join them halfway through their trip.  I met the journalists in Sackets Harbor in New York and spent a lovely evening talking about science communication and the journalist perspective.  The next day, inspired and energized by the discussions from the night before, I joined several journalists on a charter fishing boat captained by “Megabite”.  The goal for the day was to land some trout, but the heavens opened early.

IJNR Fellows fishing in the rain

IJNR Fellows fishing in the rain

Despite the downpour, it was a good trip. We went to a deep trench in Lake Ontario by an island where trout and salmon congregate at their preferred cold temperatures and caught many fish.  And throughout the day we talked extensively about the science and economics of the introduced fish.

IJNR fellows interviewing Captain "Megabite"

IJNR fellows interviewing Captain "Megabite"

Most trout and all salmon in Lake Ontario are not native. They have been stocked by state and provincial governments for several decades.  They are the cornerstone of a thriving multi-million dollar sportfish and recreational fishing industry around the lake.

Just as I wrote about Lake Erie, Lake Ontario is not the same lake it was 50 years ago.  Invasive species, especially round goby, now make up a high proportion of the trout and salmon diets. After meeting with the charter boat captains and New York biologists we discussed native, introduced and invasive species. The Sackets Harbor captains mentioned that the round goby had very probably revived their fishing businesses in a big way!

Trout caught by IJNR fellows for lunch!

We then drove over the Canadian border to meet with a group of people working on the endangered American eel.  The rain simply would not abate, and we had to huddle under a bridge by small river for shelter. This particular river is an important site for young eels and we were to see a demonstration of electro-fishing. My colleague, John Casselman and his graduate students spoke about their work with American eel, which has an amazingly intricate marine-freshwater lifecycle that is threatened by dams along the St. Lawrence Seaway.

In addition, John Rorabeck, an expert commercial fisherman, spoke about the historical importance of American eel to fishing industries. Unfortunately the boat was not working so we could not collect American eel, but the journalists got to listen to top-notch stories by two leading experts.  It was wonderful to listen to John R, especially as he truly has close ties to Lake Ontario and he had worked with one of my graduate students on the Rideau Lakes catching fish for our food web analyses.

Commercial fisherman John R speaking about American eel

Commercial fisherman John R speaking about American eel

By the end of the day the complexity of the lake was becoming very apparent. We had considered introduced fish species which were benefiting from an invasive fish species, the trout and the round goby. We also discussed a native species fast declining in the Great Lakes.  Lake Ontario is changing very rapidly… what will it be like in the future? Even the most knowledgeable scientists and fishermen are not sure.

Tomorrow:  Tilting at wind turbines.

Project 52 No 18. Fishing for fun? Then take care of the fish!

15 02 2011

¡Hola de Bariloche! While I doubt very much we’d get the opportunity to sample Nahuelito, the local monster, we did get a pretty good representation of key species from the entire food web in each of the 3 sites in Lake Nahuel Huapi over the past two weeks. Last Thursday and Friday, we sampled the third and final site, the southernmost bay near Dina Huapi and the Rio Limay, a famous trout river.   Nahuel Huapi National Park is renowned internationally for its trout fishing, with all of its trout species introduced since early 1900’s until about 1950-60’s.  Now, all trout species are self-sustaining and provide very important economic revenue for the region.

While we were searching for a place on the Dina Huapi beach to put the boat in, I came across this dead trout, likely a rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), although I couldn’t confirm the identification.  Within the Park boundaries, anglers are not permitted to keep the fish they catch, but must release all fish.  The cause of death for this trout is likely exhaustion and poor handling after capture.

This image reveals the other side of trophy and sport fishing – fish do suffer and do not always recover rapidly from being caught especially if there is a long fight on the line and a tricky hook to take out.   I liked this image as it contrasted textures and colours of the pale decaying trout against the beautiful  cobblestones under the water in the very harsh morning light.  As such, the presence of death  in such hard surroundings sends a powerful message. 

Exhausted trout near Limay River

I am not against recreational fishing.  However, it is good to be reminded that all actions we undertake will have consequences, and it is always wise to minimize the negative impacts of those acts when we can.

Here is a shot of the nearby river and the Park signage:

Fly fishing in Nahual Huapi

Tibet: amazing people, amazing place

13 07 2010

Ecogirl is current on a field trip to Tibet. Her research project is focusing on these remote, apparently pristine lakes. Here’s an excerpt from her travels.

“….We went to YumDrok — over 4,400 m. We had to go up the Gampala Pass, which is just amazing very loooooooooong switchback road in fantastic shape (built only 8 years ago) – we climbed nearly 1000 m. There were prayer flags at the summit fluttering in the wind.

We had to ask around about fish and stopped to ask a Tibetan construction crew, and found a village by YumDrok. Even the Tibetans who catch the fish aren’t too worried about the species — they just catch them for the Chinese restaurant with a Chinese chef they run for the tourists. Pickings were slim — I ended up getting only 13 fish (4 species) but I am not complaining. It’ll do. At the lake’s high altitude, I was fine for about 3 hours, but then my fingertips started to tingle, swell and turn purple really fast — but luckily we were ready to go back by then and I only had to wait for about 200 m downwards before my fingers were back to normal. I think it was a really good thing I spent a day in Lhasa first.

This morning before we left, I did more research online and found a posting by a Chinese reporter (in English) about a village near Lhasa that is unusual in that Tibetans actively catch, sell and eat fish, so I forwarded that to the travel agency. They checked and sure enough, the village does exist. They called the guide to update him. After we got what we could at YumDrok, we headed straight there after a stop at a genuine Tibetan-run restaurant full of Tibetans for lunch. It actually reminded me of some of the popular Ugandan restaurants.

The fishing village was a funny place — a lot of money invested there. The guide and driver couldn’t explain as it was their first time there. There weren’t many fish for sale by the time we arrived, so we discussed with the fishermen whether we could come back tomorrow and if they could set aside key species for me. Anyway, somehow the conversation / negotiation with the fishermen took an unexpected bend just like the Gampala switchback road — I don’t know how! It seems that the guide and I are going to take a ride with two of their best fishermen in a raft/boat down the Lhasa tomorrow morning!

They liked how I asked questions about their nets and techniques, so perhaps that was how it started — plus I wanted many species of fish, not just the market fish. They do know their species well, and really enjoyed going through my Xizang fish book. Everyone was talking in rapidfire Tibetan, mixed in with Chinese & and English so it was a bit crazy. Anyway, that offer surprised me so I checked Lhasa river conditions out — it can be fast, but there are places where you can very easily float to the shore if you stay calm. I also checked out the boat — it is very stable with a near-square base, perfect for hauling lots of heavy fish onboard. Well-made with stretched and waterproofed thick and tough leather (probably oxskin) as well! With 3.5 hours on the water, the biggest risk will be the sun, and the guide already advised me to bring an umbrella — which I always do! 🙂

That’s all for now, I have to enter the data from this morning’s fish!….”