Sea animals are dying off in massive numbers along the Pacific Coastline from Baja, Mexico all the way to Alaska, and there may be nothing anyone can do about it.
A combination of man-made and natural causes are killing off bottlenose dolphins, sardines, sea birds, plankton, krill, salmon, sea lions, starfish, and brown pelicans in record numbers.
What’s worse, the planet may be forced to do without them, as their absence may be the new normal.
A huge mass of warm water scientists are calling “the blob” has developed off the coast starting in 2013 when the normal winter storms from Alaska didn’t show up to cool down the Pacific.
Since then, it has spread over 2,000 miles long to cover the entire Pacific Coastline and expanded 500 miles wide.
AT SEA – FEBRUARY 18: Ring of thunderclouds on the horizon at dusk February 18, 2015 at Sea. Provided by the Volvo Ocean Race.
(Photo by Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)[/caption]
The warm water is killing off bottom-of-the-food-chain species like plankton and krill, allowing poisonous algal blooms to spread and encouraging a starfish disease to turn into an epidemic.
It may also be the cause of California’s historic four-year megadrought.
Meanwhile, industrial and radioactive waste from the Japanese tsunami in 2011 and the dumping of modern chemical and agricultural debris are combining with a monster El Nino to push existing species to the brink of extinction.
As the warm water spreads, larger creatures like sea lions are forced to travel further to find food, which means they have to leave their babies behind and that’s resulted in a record number of sea lion pup strandings this year.
Sea birds like Cassin’s auklets, who eat the absent plankton, have been reported to be washing up onshore in numbers nearing 100,000; and that’s just what’s been reported this year alone.
A mystery disease that turns starfish into goo is being spread by the unnaturally warm water and is being blamed for the deaths of thousands of the creatures.
Bottlenose dolphins have also been dying off in recent numbers in an event directly related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Commercial fisheries, meanwhile, have overfished the sardine population reducing them to 10 percent of their 2006 population.
The number of salmon returning to spawn in their native rivers and streams has been has reduced by half, and brown pelicans are so traumatized they’ve stopped breeding altogether.
Meanwhile, scientists are seeing an influx of tropical species like sunfish and Pacific Whiting or hake and its these changes that are causing scientists to think this might be the new normal.
National and international groups have taken recent action to halt overfishing, protect seafloor habitats and establish protected marine environments, but it may not be enough.
New tropical species have started to move into the Pacific and the change in ocean climate may favor them over established species.
Our children may not have the same Pacific Ocean we enjoy now.
[Photos by David McNew/ Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race/Justin Sullivan/Sean Gallup/Getty Images[