Dr. James Bohnsacks affiliation with Seacamp dates back to its early inception, predating Seacamp as we currently know it. He joined the Seacamp staff in l964 and l965 on West Summerland Key. During the summers from l972 to l972 he served as staff biologist with the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute at Seacamp. And from l975 to l979 was our Science Program Director. All of that wonderful experience at Seacamp has served him well, and has helped him to become the respected marine science professional he is today. He is currently a full-time professional researcher with the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, which is affiliated with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association, more commonly known by its acronym, NOAA.
“Coral Reef Fisheries, Conservation Ethics and Marine Resources” was the focus of his talk. Much of the information he shared was based upon his own research. He started his presentation by asking Seacampers if they had read a recent article in the newspapers about the disappearance of big fish from our oceans.
Dr. Bohnsack knows a lot about why big fish, in fact fish of any size, have declined in number. Recently his research took him to the Dry Tortugas, located about twenty-five miles off the coast of Key West. He and his colleagues spent thirty days on-board a research vessel, and did over 800 dives. They wanted to learn more about the fish of the coral reef. They sampled the kinds of fish, their size and their living conditions.
Following an explanation of the myriad of factors that are causing the decline in reef fish population, he offered a ray of hope. It is the establishment of no-take zones in the marine reserve surrounding the Florida Keys. As a leader in the creation of these zones he should know. Research dating back to l997 when they were created, shows promise. Fish population has begun to increase!
Near the end of his talk he quoted the famous conservationist, Aldo Leopold. Leopold said that, “ a thing is right when, it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community”. And to add additional emphasis, Dr. Bohnsack shared a song that he wrote, while playing his guitar. It highlighted the major themes that flowed throughout his talk.
Proud members of his family were in the audience. They were his family, but also members of the Seacamp family: Barbara, his wife, a former staff member, Karen a current staff member, and Amy a current Seacamper. Dr. Bohnsack knew that his message had been well received when at the very end, Seacampers and staff rose to their feet with loud applause and cheering, in obvious appreciation for his research and thoughtful presentation!