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These tweets are like sex ed for the sea

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If you like seafood, avoid messing with sea creatures’ sex lives

NOAA

Today is World Oceans day — which means it's the perfect time to talk about sex.

That was the message behind the #sexfriendlyseafood discussion that took place on Twitter this afternoon. There's a directly link between underwater sex — the kind that non-human animals have — and sustainability. And when human activities interfere with the way sea creatures reproduce, that can seriously affect what humans get to eat. So, for World Oceans day, talking about sex is vital — not to mention fascinating.

Many of the ideas broached on Twitter were mentioned by Future of Fish research director Marah Hardt in a blog post yesterday. In it, she writes that human activities are responsible for breaking up important "oceanic orgies." When female lobsters pee, for instance, the smell that their urine gives off tames males that are normally aggressive. But human-caused changes in the pH of seawater means that "this age-old love potion may lose its potency—and the female, her life (along with her virginity)," she writes. Fishing species during their spawning period is also really bad practice, because it makes finding mates a lot harder. And when cetaceans want to attract mates, our noisy boating activities can really put a damper on their calls.

So, what can people do to enjoy seafood and eat sustainably? Chefs and restaurant customers should avoid cooking and eating animals that are in the middle of their spawning season. Following that rule not only lets animals mate in peace, but also provides people with much tastier food.

People can also choose to eat species that spawn fast. These include:

and...

The bottom line is that it is possible for people to eat seafood without ruining the oceans — but it takes some work. For anyone who enjoys consuming seafood (and who has other options available to them), learning where and when it's okay to do so is crucial.