What’s Happening in the North Pacific?
Mother Davis tosses her wetsuit on top of her kayak and asks,
What’s happening in the North Pacific? Signs are that something big is going on.
Unfamiliar animals from warm waters are showing up in the water off of Oregon and Washington in unprecedented numbers. Salmon runs are down this year between 20 and 30 percent. Huge numbers of dead birds are washing up on shore – for example, over 40 times the usual number of dead cormorants have been found by a survey on Washington beaches, far more than ever before. At the same time as large numbers of sea birds are dying, those that are left are showing dramatically reduced breeding rates.
One possible culprit: Warming of ocean temperatures resulting from global climate change. Pacific coastal temperatures are way up. Standard Pacific Ocean currents also seem to have shut down this year, preventing the upwelling of nutrients and plankton from lower depths. This shift in ocean currents has never before been observed. If it continues, says Bill Peterson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “we will have a food chain that is basically impoverished from the very lowest levels.”
Wondering if she should stock up on her fish oil capsules,