According to a study by researchers from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, the population of sprat in the Clyde seas has grown a hundred times as large as in the 1980s, putting the marine ecosystem in a much better condition.
“Sprat form a critical part of the marine food chain, and are vital for other larger fish such as cod and whiting, as well as other animals further up the food chain such as seabirds, whales, dolphins, and sharks,” says Professor Paul Fernandes, fisheries scientist at the University’s School of Biological Sciences. “It is fantastic to see these parts of the food chain recover. This should, in time, lead to recovery of the populations of the larger animals that feed on them.”
The Clyde sea off the coast of Glasgow is home to large schools of sprat, some being more than 2 km long and 30 m deep. Researchers used scientific sonar equipment to locate the sprats. Then, thanks to advanced sonar processing techniques, they estimated their numbers from 2014 to 2016. In 2016, they estimated 70,000 tons of sprats – or some 23 billion individuals – 100 times more than in the late 1980s.