David Secor provided the overture to the second day of ICES Annual Science Conference. His lecture on fish migration, "Mapping migrations onto dynamic seascapes: "The most essential things are invisible to the eye" addressed the reality of our digital era and the multitudinous discoveries this ushers in.
Through technological advances, fish now tell their own migratory stories. Every movement of a single fish can be recorded and studied. To the strains of Mozart's Fourth, Secor illustrated this chase for data with his own research on Atlantic Striped Bass in the Chesapeake Bay area.
However, Secor asked his audience to place value on the way that we challenge conventional beliefs with this new unconventional information. While it is easy to become fascinated by this ascendancy of the individual, we mustn't forget that fish are social creatures. Migration is, after all, more than the sum of numbers and Secor points to rebuilding the masses of data into seminal movements.
"We've got to do this in what I call the mind's eye, through modeling simulation, to really challenge the conventional through alternative realities."
Now that empiricists, like Secor, have generated new views on fish migration, the next conversation needs to be with assessment scientists, moving from the ecology of optima (sustainable maximum yield and equilibrium conditions) to the ecology of possibilities (simulation modeling, operating models and management strategy evaluation approaches). This will be moving into much more uncertain waters but approaching this from what Secor calls an intermediate operational point of view, using systems with social behaviours, similarities will emerge but the trick will be to to identify the irregularities and turn them into themes and subthemes in terms of how fish migrate.
Secor himself admitted to making the complex more complex, but has succinctly captured his lecture in a few short lines:
Deluged in digital age discoveries Racing to the next discovery as quickly as we are able Merits humility and reference to Anderson's fable Value is not the mere product of the observation at hand Rather it's the imagined possibilities that we need to understand.
David Secor at Tuesday's lecture