>Welcome to my website and blog!

Can you imagine an ocean empty of fish? I can.

I’m a scientist, a marine biologist. I’ve traveled the world, dived and worked in many of its oceans.

Here I share my knowledge and adventures with you – to serve, inform and inspire you – activate your curiosity about our oceans, and their fish.

I write about why the oceans and fish are in trouble and the choices you can make to save them (and us).

We explore fishing (commercial and recreational) and the old/new practice of Aquaculture or fish-farming. I’ll give you the inside scoop on wild-caught versus farm-raised fish. What to buy, what to avoid, and where you can get more information.

In thirty years of working on and around the oceans, at fish farms, and teaching marine biology in the classroom, I’ve answered questions from the shopper at the fish counter, the TED talk watcher, and the student. But confusion still exists and our oceans still suffer.

In this blog, I also explore why fish are good for your health. Today doctors recommend eating fish three times a week because of the healthy fats or Omega-3s. But with over 32,000 species of fishes, not ALL have what you need, and are better left in the oceans than turning up on your plate.

Wouldn’t you like to know more about the fish you choose to eat for dinner?

…In addition to being a research scientist, I’m also a writer, poet, artist (photographer) and teacher. I’ll post some pictures from my adventures in Canada, the Caribbean and around the world. I’ll take you to a fish farm in Texas, and one in Mexico high in the mountains, where they grow rainbow trout; we’ll journey to the deep oceans, where life likely began on Earth, but where deep-sea fishing may put an end to it.

For fun, I invite other scientists, explorers, friends and colleagues who study the oceans to guest post on this blog. So you’ll hear from voices in addition to mine from those who love the oceans and are fighting to save them.

You can come here to learn and to explore. To get inspired and motivated. To know because of your actions you contribute to conserving our oceans while – “feeding the world one fish at a time”.

What question about fish or the oceans won’t let you sleep at night?

Let me hear from you…


Fun Fish Fare – Poems and other fillets

When next you go to the store,
Forgetting often, as do I,
What you came there for…
Until you spot the fish monger sign
And you think – ah! fish for dinner,
Simply divine.

But as you step to the counter, you have to blink,
There are so many choices –
What’s best?..you will think.
Will it be…
Salmon from Chile?
Or salmon from Maine?
If you choose wrong, will someone complain?

But thanks to the Fish Doctor, you know which is right –
No antibiotics in the fillets,
no toxins – not one thing to give fright.
‘Tis the salmon from Maine
You might have known –
Farmed in the US,
Right here at home.

You step up, state your choice.
In the back of your mind you can rejoice –
Decisions once hard, are now easier to make
Thanks to the Fish Doctor,
you know what’s at stake.
So if you like what you read,
Please come back to my site –
And let me – the Fish Doctor,
…Be your fish guide.

IHVH copyright 2017

About me – The Fish Doctor

Dr. Vonherbing Ph.D. – The Fish Doctor

Born where the mountains meet the sea in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada,  I seek connections between sky and ocean; between spirit and science. I often find the intersection of these two disparate themes played out in the amazing life of fishes (which is my expertise).

My more creative side (I am a published poet and photographer (Aslan’s Art ABD)) is often at odds with my professional life as an Associate Professor at the University of North Texas, Denton, TX.  But I learned that the more creative side of all of us enriches the more linear, logical side, and after fifty years of living well – I found congruence.

Early in my life (age 15) I dived with SCUBA on coral reefs off Mombasa, Kenya in the Indian Ocean. Sixty minutes underwater transported me to a realm only found in the best of dreams.  I committed my life to conserving and holding sacred, the beauty and harmony of what I witnessed on that reef. But over the next thirty years plus, I was to witness and experience moments of anything but beauty and peace.

After finishing my undergraduate degree at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, in 1983, I spent ten years as a graduate student (MSc) in Oceanography (McGill University), and commercial diver in the Caribbean (Barbados and Bahamas). There I saw the encroachment of pollution and the beginning of ocean acidification due to climate change. I grew concerned about the health of our planet and its oceans.

In 1992, during my Ph.D. in Physiology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, I witnessed the crash of the greatest fishery on Earth, the Atlantic cod fishery.  It wasn’t just the fact that cod disappeared after 500 years of fishing, it was its devastation on the fishermen and their families that tore at my heart. How could we have managed such a great resource so poorly? I spent the better part of half a century searching for answers and offering solutions.

I came to the US in 1994 as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and continued ocean research during two additional postdoctoral positions (one in the Caribbean (Bellairs Research Institute) and the other in Florida (Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution), culminating in a tenure-track faculty position at University of Maine, School of Marine Sciences.

After tenure at U. Maine, I spent 3 years in Washington DC, at the National Science Foundation (2003-2006), as a Program Director in the Biological Sciences Directorate, where I helped other scientists realize their dreams in academia. In 2007, I accepted a tenured Associate Professor position in the Biological Sciences Department at the University of North Texas, where I am Director of the Marine Conservation and Aquatic Physiology Laboratory (MCAPL), and teach courses in: Marine Biology & Ocean Sustainability, and Developmental Biology.

Over the past nine years, my concern for the deteriorating health of global oceans, and lack of sustainably farmed fish to feed the world’s increasing demand, led me to use probiotics (“good” bacteria) in my research, and test it for the commercial fish farm.  Fostering a healthy gut microbiome is not only important to fish, but also to human brain/gut health, where it improves cognitive function, focus and fights disease.

In conjunction with my UNT graduate students, I hold two patents, one of which is a treatment for the human disease PKU, using a genetically modified probiotic. I have come to believe after thirty years of research in the oceans that our health as human beings is intimately tied to and reflects that of our oceans, our air and our land.  It’s time to act to preserve what is left and build a world for the future. As the Dali Lama said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

My Blog

Born to Die: If fish produce millions of eggs – why is there a crisis in the oceans?

The author at 24 in the dry lab. Barbados, WI. The first time I saw a life begin – was in Barbados. On that day, rain pounded on the corrugated iron roof above me. Like a Texas cattle stampede, the semi-annual monsoons had pummeled the Lesser Antilles for five days, with no end in site. …

Komodo Dragon of the Sea: Fish names that hide the truth

Two features describe the deep oceans of our planet. Dark and cold (4℃ or 39.2 ℉ ) Light from the surface never reaches this realm and deep ocean currents keep the sun’s heat from the depths. Credit: NIWA, New Zealand/CenSeam, Census of Marine Life Life crawls, creeps, plods and paddles here. No stream-lined tunas of the …


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