This month, the Gloucester-based Large Pelagics Research Center, which studies large marine vertebrates, joined the School for the Environment at UMass Boston. Of particular interest to the research group are tunas, billfish and sea turtles, species that are vital to fisheries and ocean ecosystems around the world.
“What attracted us to the School for the Environment was their holistic, global approach to problems,” said Professor Molly Lutcavage, founder and director of the center.
Lutcavage is a leader in integrating fishers and fisheries into her ecology research. This approach has allowed her to gain unprecedented access to schools of fish, and to benefit from the fishers’ expert knowledge of those species’ behavior.
Lutcavage founded the Large Pelagics Research Center, also known as the “Tuna Lab,” at the University of New Hampshire in 2003, following a decade of turtle and tuna research at the New England Aquarium. The center moved to Gloucester in 2010, and was previously affiliated with UMass Amherst. Lutcavage intends to continue her work with fishers in Gloucester while she and assistant research professor Tim Lam collaborate with colleagues on UMass Boston’s waterfront campus.
“We are incredibly honored to have Dr. Lutcavage and Dr. Lam join our faculty,” said Robyn Hannigan, dean of the School for the Environment. “We are eager to work with them to advance the significant contributions they and their colleagues at the center have made to our understanding of our marine fish. This is an amazing opportunity for our students to learn how to respectfully and sustainably manage our marine fisheries.”
Current and upcoming projects for the Large Pelagics Research Center include using drones to monitor tuna schools in real time, satellite tagging of giant bluefin, a National Geographic project with Critter Cam inventor, Greg Marshall, and several cooperative fisheries research projects with the Pacific Islands Fisheries Group in the Hawaiian Islands.