Les Watling is a professor of biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Watling’s Pew fellowship project assessed and compared the impact of mobile fishing gear, specifically bottom trawling, on ocean-floor habitats in three diverse regions across the United States. Watling chose a study site near Monhegan Island, Maine, much of which had never been trawled, because almost no research had been done on truly muddy ocean bottoms. Samples of the sediment and animals were taken from the site to study the impacts of trawling on this substrate type. Watling also used radioisotope detection to look at the distribution of marine animals in sediment. He found through his research that “without any doubt” trawl gear has sometimes severe impacts on sediments, either by mixing the upper layer or by suspending sediments and redistributing them over some distance.
To learn more about Watling, visit his bio online: http://www.umaine.edu/marine/people/profile/les_watling.