Dr. Milton Love discusses fish of the Pacific Coast

Dr. Milton Love, University of California Santa Barbara ichthyologist, gave a guest lecture on his work involving Pacific Coast fishes and conservation efforts Friday in Saddleback
College’s Science and Math Building, Room 313.

Love has done research for the U.S. Geological Survey and National Marine Fisheries Services and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pacific Marine Conservation Council. He does his conservation research at the University of California’s Marine Science Institute in Santa Barbara where he operates his lab group called Love Labs.

In his research, Love looks into the influence of man made platforms on Pacific sea life.

“Despite what one may think about off shore oil platforms, they serve as a great environment to fish,” Love said. “Fish seem to have a need to associate with anything, regardless of what it may be. The oil platforms serve as a great breeding ground for the fish and create massive pillars of sea life.”

When Love discussed conservation efforts, he showed the steady decline in rockfish populations since 1960 until 2008 when there was a federal conservation effort to preserve fish. Since the ban, the rockfish population has reached levels high enough to warrant a commercial fishing enterprise without damaging the specie’s survivability.

Love has a fascination with rockfish, specifically the cowcod, so much so he even has a tattoo of it. The reason for his affection for the cowcod is its belief that if it can’t see someone, that person can’t see it.

“I have gone on many excursions and would see entire sea floors that void of a few slight ridges and rocks were almost flat,” Love said. “Then I would see hundreds of cowcods with only their heads under the sand and their bodies and tails flailing to push them further into the sand.”

More information on Love’s research and a display of his sense of humor can be found in his book “Probably More Than You Want to Know About Fishes of the Pacific Coast.”