Fellow Digs into Fish DNA to Inform White Marlin Management

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Fellow Digs into Fish DNA to Inform White Marlin Management

Nadya Mamoozadeh will use genetic tools to determine the how many white marlin populations are in the Atlantic Ocean.

Nadya Mamoozadeh. ©VASG

Nadya Mamoozadeh. ©VASG

By Chris Patrick, staff writer

Nadya Mamoozadeh is fascinated by fish.

“I’m from western Pennsylvania where there isn’t any oceanfront, so I always sort of thought the ocean was really interesting,” says the Slippery Rock-native. “Plus, I just think fish are cool.”

Her interest has persisted. This June, as a Virginia Sea Grant graduate research fellow at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), Mamoozadeh begins a two-year project to figure out the number of white marlin populations in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Which will hopefully help the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas manage them in a more informed way,” Mamoozadeh says.

White marlin adults are between five- and seven-foot-long fish with pointy, lance-like bills and a dorsal fin resembling an indigo-colored mohawk. Currently, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) manages them as one Atlantic Ocean-wide population. But recent tagging data suggests there might be more than one.

Mamoozadeh will use genetic tools to determine how many populations there really are.

It’s a pertinent issue. White marlin are considered overfished. ICCAT wants to rebuild their stock.

“If we can figure out what the population structure is and get a better idea of how each population is doing individually, then we can focus management efforts on those populations that actually need the help,” Mamoozadeh says.

Mamoozadeh received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Slippery Rock University in 2008 and her master’s degree in marine science from the University North Carolina Wilmington in 2010. She’s currently earning her doctorate from VIMS.