Marine Life Threatened
Not by Fire but by Ice
THE NEXT ICE AGE - NOW!
Updated 13 July 2005
Warmer oceans may be killing West Coast marine life
– 13 July 2005 - Scientists suspect that rising ocean temperatures and
dwindling plankton populations are behind a growing number of seabird
deaths, reports of fewer salmon and other anomalies along the West Coast.
Coastal ocean temperatures are 2 to 5 degrees above normal, apparently
caused by a lack of upwelling.— a process that brings cold, nutrient-rich
water to the surface and jump-starts the marine food chain.
This spring, a record number of dead seabirds washed up on beaches from
central California to British Columbia … five to 10 times the highest number
of bird deaths seen before.
"Something big is going on out there," said Julia Parrish, an associate
professor in the
Schoolof Aquatic Fisheriesand Sciences at the University
of Washington . "I'm left with no obvious smoking gun, but birds are a good
signal because they feed high up on the food chain."
"In 50 years, this has never happened," said Bill Peterson, an oceanographer
with NOAA in
Newport, OR. "If this continues, we will have a food chain
that is basically impoverished from the very lowest levels."
NOAA's June and July surveys of juvenile salmon off the coasts of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia indicate a 20 to 30 percent drop in populations, compared with surveys from 1998-2004, especially coho and chinook.
"Nobody saw this coming," said Bill Sydeman, director of marine ecology at Point Reyes Bird Observatory.
Higher water temperatures are typically seen during an El Niņo. But this is not an El Niņo year.
See also It's not global warming, it's ocean warming
BACK TO HOME PAGE