Skip to comments.Scientists Raise Alarm About Ocean Health
Posted on 07/15/2005 2:23:55 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
SEATTLE With a record number of dead seabirds washing up on West Coast beaches from Central California to British Columbia, marine biologists are raising the alarm about rising ocean temperatures and dwindling plankton populations.
"Something big is going on out there," said Julia Parrish, an associate professor in the School of Aquatic Fisheries and 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."
Coastal ocean temperatures are 2 to 5 degrees above normal, which may be related to a lack of updwelling, in which cold, nutrient-rich water is brought to the surface.
Updwelling is fueled by northerly winds that sweep out near-shore waters and bring cold water to the surface. The process starts the marine food chain, fueling algae and shrimplike krill populations that feed small fish, which then provide a source of food for a variety of sea life from salmon to sea birds and marine mammals.
On Washington beaches, bird surveyors in May typically find an average of one dead Brandt's cormorant every 34 miles of beach. This year, cormorant deaths averaged one every eight-tenths of a mile, according to data gathered by volunteers with the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, which Parrish has directed since 2000.
"This is somewhere between five and 10 times the highest number of bird deaths we've seen before," she said, adding that she expected June figures to show a similar trend.
This spring's cool, wet weather brought southwesterly wind to coastal areas and very little northerly wind, said Nathan Mantua, a research scientist with the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington. Without northerly winds, there is no updwelling and plankton stay at lower depths.
"In 50 years, this has never happened," said Bill Peterson, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Newport, Ore. "If this continues, we will have a food chain that is basically impoverished from the very lowest levels."
Problems at the bottom of the food chain could also be related to decreases in juvenile salmon populations this summer.
NOAA's June and July surveys of juvenile salmon off the coasts of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia indicate a 20 percent to 30 percent drop in populations, compared with surveys from 1998-2004.
"We don't really know that this will cause bad returns. The runs this year haven't been horrible, but below average," said Ed Casillas, program manager of Estuarine and Ocean Ecology at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.
Scientists tracking anomolies along Washington's coast reported the appearance of warm-water plankton species and scores of jellyfish piling up on beaches. A Guadalupe fur seal, native to South America, was found dead in Ocean Shores.
Parrish and a scientist near San Francisco report changes in bird breeding. Both said starvation stress could be the cause for decreased breeding and increased bird deaths.
Peterson, the NOAA oceanographer, said many scientists suspect climate change may be involved.
"People have to realize that things are connected -- the state of coastal temperatures and plankton populations are connected to larger issues like Pacific salmon populations," he said.
Parrish cautioned that human activity could jeopardize the survival of animals already stressed by environmental changes.
"This, for instance, would be a truly bad year for an oil spill," she said
The oceans provide us with free food. It is still a hunter-gathering environment which requires us no more than to go out and find the food. Farming fish is vastly more expensive and is merely a transfer of food we have grown to fish we have grown. That means less food than what the oceans now provide us.
Aside from privatising the oceans, the only model that prevents overfishing is a carefully controlled socialist contract between fisherman and between nations when talking about international waters. Otherwise everyone loses because all the fish get caught because the market forces demand it.
I am not prepared to accept the argument that the oceans are so vast and we havent explored them enough yet blah blah blah. Most of the ocean more lifeless than a desert. The main fisheries are identified, known and are being overfished. Just read Canary Row to learn the effects and realize that it is happening everywhere on the planet.
"but the reality is that there is a big problem with our oceans"
I think your right (see New England's fisheries).
But this problem ain't it. As soon as the wind starts blowing the proper way again (this summer, fall, next year?) the krill and all the critter's will come back shallow, the surviving birds will get fat and happy and the cycle will continue as it has for the last 12,000 years. (1.5 miles of ice in Puget Sound probably messed with the cycle a bit more dramatically).
So, if there were actually global warming going on, the cool wet weather in the spring would have been replaced by warm, dry weather which would have increased northerly winds which would have caused an upwelling that brought up plankton for fish...?
No matter if the weather is wetter than "normal", drier than "normal", cooler than "normal", hotter than "normal", or more normal than "normal" blame global warming.
What a crock. Like sh!t, weather happens....
This article was in the Seattle Times a few days ago. In THAT article the scientist was also talking about nesting behaviour, etc. One nest area was abandoned after none of the birds could lay eggs - something he hadn't seen before (14 years or so as I recall).
He also said in the Times article something to the effect that "These birds are resilent tho - we know that because they are so widespread and have been around a long time and have been through this before".
Question - If a Redwood falls in the forest with nobody around - does a liberal still cry for it?
Actually you are completely misstating the consequences of global warming. The fact that the overall temperature of the planet will increase will actually lead to a decrease in temperature in some places as air and water currents change.
Generally the phenomon is referred to as "climate change". In the United States the term "global warming" is still used because apparently Americans think "change" is good.
There are quite a few valid criticisms in the global warming debate, but the fact that some places get cooler is not one. This merely shows your ignorance of the subject.
Translation: I have no clue what's going on, but I know it's global warming, at least that's what Al Gore, Howard Dean, and John Kerry have said, and we know they know everything and would never lie.
Maybe. He will definitley make a deck out of it.
"This, for instance, would be a truly bad year for an oil spill," she said". I guess I picked a bad year to quit heroin.
This argument shows your ignorance of simple weather patterns. I've been watching the weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest for 51 years now, and I've seen this 3 or 4 times.
Whenever there is a cool, wet summer the bird and fish populations don't have as much to eat and many die. It has absolutely nothing to do with global warming, climate change, or whatever you want to call it today.
Talk to the coastal Indians or to honest researchers, and they will tell you the pacific coast has been going thru this cycle for at least centuries.
With a mind this sharp, I'm sure saving the planet is well within their intellectual capacity.
My back yard is the Gulf of Mexico whose fisheries are in the midst of a re-birth. We are seeing new abundance in the stocks of red snapper, several species of grouper (red, gag, black, scamp, goliath, etc.). Pompano, king mackeral and billfish are more plentiful now than they were back in the 70's.
This is the opposite of decline.
The alarmists have an agenda and if you've been here on FR a while, you will recognize their pattern.
If Bush wouldn't play with the wind direction, everything would be fine.
It's Bush's fault!
Most Americans want the truth. We don't scare easily, and we don't beg for big government to save us from the latest fad among environmentalists, anti-capitalists, and latte sipping paper pushers.
You're correct about the alarmist hand wringing by the untenured con-men. These boys and girls are just fishing for taxpayer grants.
I'm not a sea fisherman, preferring instead to fish inland where the things living in the water don't eat you in one bite, but I do have a basic understanding of supply and demand.
We constantly hear how the salmon are in trouble, and something must be done. If the ocean salmon are in trouble, why am I buying "wild" salmon for 98¢ a pound at the market? When asked this question, the eco-conmen just turn and walk away without replying.
The problem is not 'global warming' -- the problem is 'ocean warming.'Sea birds are dying because fish are dying. Fish are dying because their natural sources of food are dying off. But the problems are more complex than that. The problems are far more complex than most anyone might imagine.
-- Robert Felix
One reason the oceans are heating up is because hundreds of under water volcanoes are erupting world wide. Poster jimtorr is correct. This is a major cyclical event. We are going through another 12,500 year 'earth change' cycle right now. The phenomena are related to sun cycles ie more intense solar activity and geomagnetic storms. Warming seas also signal strange new weather patterns: One example is colder, more violent weather in England and Northern Europe. Another example is the record number of hurricanes that will hit the east coast in 2005. Already, there are five weather systems given names this month establishing a record e.g. Hurricane Emily is # 5.
Read More ? There is a tremendous amount of material about earth changes on that site.
I just heard a new name for global warming on the radio (Joe Soucheray on GarageLogic). He called it "Gullible Warming". I love that.
Can we just reduce this down to blaming George W. Bush and then we can get on to the next crisis......I know...how about the war on civilization by the frickin mooslims.
Somehow the loss of sea birds is a little pale in comparison to Brits being blown up by these animals IMHO.
Sea birds are down, but crabs are way up. Crab harvests in Oregon are up over 30% over last year's record harvest. The scientists are now prophets of doom and gloom.
You say that like it's a bad thing.
All anyone has to do is look at the history of earth to know that climate change is inevitable. You act like I should be concerned that certain species of fish are dying. Doesn't it occur to you that the history of the oceans is the history of change as well. The oceans are getting warmer? Prepare to Marlin fish out of SF Bay....
I'm being facetious, but the reality is there's a blessing for every curse. God shuts a door somewhere and opens a window somewhere else. You actually think that species not suited to a changed ocean habitat will not be replaced? Great grasp of consequences you've got there.
The difference between you and I is you are concerned about the CONSEQUENCES of global warming, ocean warming, climate change. I'm not. My ignorance about "global warming" pales to the ignorance of some posters about how the world really operates. Things change. We'll adapt or we won't. And if either Malthus or St John prove right in their vision of the future then so what.
There are enough real tragedies and calamaties that occur in the course of life to be concerned about rather than focus on being alarmed about the inevitable changes to ocean and air temperatures....
We survived the last ice age and the last mini ice age a few hundred years back. We'll survive this period of warming/cooling/change, too, to the chagrin of the alarmists everywhere....