KSBW, Mar 30, 2015 (emphasis added): Volunteers who track the animals now say they think the colony of harbor seals is being affected by this year’s food shortage in the Monterey Bay, and that affect is significant… The food shortage is happening up and down the West Coast… it isn’t just affecting sea lions, it is also affecting harbor seals. Monitors say the pupping season got off to an early and difficult start this year, with more seal pups being abandoned the normal… They attribute the problems to a food shortage in the Pacific… it is happening all up and down the coast.
New York Times, Mar 16, 2015: Keith Matassa, Pacific Marine Mammal Center: “You could equate it to a war zone… hundreds of rescue calls a day”… Michele Hunter, PMMC: “To be honest, it’s insane. We’ve never had to deal with [something like this]“… Scientists are puzzled by whats happening. Matassa: “That’s what we’re trying to figure out is why? What’s going on? Where are the fish? Where did they go? Was there a little mini El Nino? Did something happen with the currents that the fish decided to go deeper or further out? They’re not closing the book on any theory.”
NBC San Francisco, Mar 17, 2015: [S]cientists are taking a closer look at rapidly declining oxygen levels in oceans… In California, this has meant a huge free-fall in populations of important bottom feeder fish… Francisco Chavez [with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute said,] “I think there are a slew of surprises ahead.”
East Bay Express, Mar 18, 2015: In 2013, the sardine biomass was estimated to be about 725,000 tons… In 2014 [it was] down to 406,000 tons… there is no doubt that the population is severely depressed… sardines have declined to their lowest level in six decades… it’s unclear whether fishing is a significant cause for the collapse…
Tillamook Herald, Mar 13, 2015: Dr. George Hemingway, retired Oceanographer, Marine Educator, and chair of the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council will present a lecture entitled Warming and the 2014 Anchovy Bloom… Dr. Hemingway will go on to discuss subsequent developments in the Pacific, including the current crash in the food web, which has led to significant mortality of birds, sea lions and other marine life.
KEYT, Mar 18, 2015: NOAA points to water temperature as an answer for underweight sea lions, but fisherman aren’t so sure – Fisherman tell News Channel 3 that past El Nino years have been warmer… They believe the sea lion food chain may be affected by pollution as well… “Their habitat is being messed with“… “I just think they have behavioral changes that have been affecting them much more than it has in the past.”
Published: March 31st, 2015 at 9:32 pm ET