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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,
Mother Davis

15 comments to What’s Happening in the North Pacific?

  • Mark

    These oceanographic conditions happen periodically in the South Pacific. It’s called El Nino and has little to do with global warming. That it has not before been observed in the North Pacific doesn’t mean it has never happened there before. It may just be a much more rare event.

  • Mark

    One last thought. Although global warming is real, don’t be so quick to use it to explain unusual climatic events.

  • IceyMaster

    fish oil or snake oil????

  • Fred Meyer


    Mother Davis wasn’t offering this as a certain explanation, just one possible “culprit”. Get it? It’s a “mystery”.

    This kind of cluster of events is not something to dismiss so easily.

  • It may just be a much more rare event.

    Well, yeah–and that’s bad. In ecology, “rare” equates to “dangerous”, because populations don’t get a chance to evolve to cope with them.

  • Carlos Jiminez

    Citation so I can find this report and read on it myself?

  • Actually, it’s an article on a series of different scientific assessments and observations. One article that covers some of the points discussed in this post is written by the Associated Press, released yesterday, and entitled, “Scientists Raise Alarm About Ocean Health”. You can find it at:


    Mr. Meyer is right, by the way. I would by no means declare that global climate change is for certain the cause of the events observed by oceanographers in the North Pacific. I merely stated that global climate change was “One possible culprit”.

    That’s why I placed this post in the category entitled “Mysteries”.

    With this much of a big change in one year, it’s a mystery worth paying attention to, I think.

  • zh

    it’s a reaction to
    “aerial immunization against ‘terrorists’ biologicals “

  • Geoff

    I seem to recall that, a couple of years ago, Bush was taking credit for increased salmon runs in the exact same area. Wonder what he’s saying now.

  • Eddie M.

    Yes. You know the real shame is that the G-8 avoided any action about global warming because President Bush blocked the action points. All they said was, “Yup. Global warming is a problem. How about that.” Then they went home.

    Ostrich with head in the sand award goes to the Republican industrialists corporate robber barons.

  • Tom

    Over here on the east coast, i don’t know whether this is a local phenomenon or not (thus this post), but has anyone noticed the absence of those summer noise-making insects this year? i mean it’s really quiet, when last year at this time it was noisy as hell. Also, my neighbors and i were wondering why some of our flowering trees didn’t bloom this year (crabapple & magnolia to name a few) and why many of their leaves have yellowed so soon in the season and dropped off.

  • Patricia

    Drought, extreme heat – 100 degrees at the end of the May up north!

    It’s making Maine into Memphis!

  • HareTrinity

    For about the last three years England’s had record-breaking heatwaves…

    And thanks for the article, Mother Davis; I hadn’t heard anything about this. And it does worry me; such a sudden and dramatic increase in ALL sea birds is NOT good. I truly hope it isn’t the start of a trend.

  • Paulot

    Um, DECREASE, is what you mean, right, HareTrinity?

  • HareTrinity

    Oops, yes…

    “Birds” didn’t scare me THAT much, honest!

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