2/24/2015

Pacific Dying

I am sorry to tell you this, I know that you don't want to believe that this is happening, but it is.  I am sorry.

Scientists study massive krill die-off on Northern California coast


July 25, 2013  San Jose Mercury News
Scientists say the strandings were reported from Newport, Ore., to McKinleyville in northern Humboldt County in mid-June, making it the geographically largest krill die-off on record. An examination of 10 krill found all were female and most carried sperm packets, suggesting they may have perished just after mating, Tyburczy said.
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attribution: None Specified

West Coast sardine crash could radiate throughout ecosystem


January 05, 2014 Los Angeles Times
To blame is the biggest sardine crash in generations, which has made schools of the small, silvery fish a rarity on the West Coast. The decline has prompted steep cuts in the amount fishermen are allowed to catch, and scientists say the effects are probably radiating throughout the ecosystem, starving brown pelicans, sea lions and other predators that rely on the oily, energy-rich fish for food. If sardines don't recover soon, experts warn, the West Coast's marine mammals, seabirds and fishermen could suffer for years.
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Mass Death of Seabirds in Western U.S. Is 'Unprecedented'


January 23, 2015  National Geographic

"This is just massive, massive, unprecedented,"

said Julia Parrish, a University of Washington seabird ecologist who oversees the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), a program that has tracked West Coast seabird deaths for almost 20 years. "We may be talking about 50,000 to 100,000 deaths. So far."
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attribution: None Specified

'Prepare for the worst': Struggling to save starving sea lions on California shores


January 15, 2015  Orange County Register
“This year could be a perfect storm,” Nollens said. “An El Niño climate event affecting the females and yearlings and something still unexplained affecting the skinny pups.” . . .
Later this month, she will go out again.
“We’ve told the centers to prepare for the worst,” she said.
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This is NOT an El Nino year.  This is a third year of unprecedented West Coast offshore sea surface temperature warming that is the HALLMARK of global warming.

Do you still think that global warming is a hoax, you arrogant, misanthropic, sociopathic, fascist bastards???

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Originally posted to New Minas on Sat Feb 14, 2015 at 07:33 PM PST.

Also republished by Climate Action Hub and Climate Change SOS.

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1/28/2015

Giant Flock of birds invade sky in Houston

It was like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's movie 'The Birds.' A giant flock of birds invaded the sky in a Houston neighborhood.

The birds covered the utility wires and the edges of roofs.

The man who shot the video was driving by when he spotted the amazing sight.

Warning: Graphic language in video. Tap here to view on News app.


ABC7news
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1/21/2015

Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says

A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.
“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.
But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.
“We’re lucky in many ways,” said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and another author of the new report. “The impacts are accelerating, but they’re not so bad we can’t reverse them.”
Scientific assessments of the oceans’ health are dogged by uncertainty: It’s much harder for researchers to judge the well-being of a species living underwater, over thousands of miles, than to track the health of a species on land. And changes that scientists observe in particular ocean ecosystems may not reflect trends across the planet.
Photo
Transplanted coral off Java Island, Indonesia. Great damage results from the loss of habitats like coral reefs, an analysis found. Credit Aman Rochman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Dr. Pinsky, Dr. McCauley and their colleagues sought a clearer picture of the oceans’ health by pulling together data from an enormous range of sources, from discoveries in the fossil record to statistics on modern container shipping, fish catches and seabed mining. While many of the findings already existed, they had never been juxtaposed in such a way.
A number of experts said the result was a remarkable synthesis, along with a nuanced and encouraging prognosis.
“I see this as a call for action to close the gap between conservation on land and in the sea,” said Loren McClenachan of Colby College, who was not involved in the study.
There are clear signs already that humans are harming the oceans to a remarkable degree, the scientists found. Some ocean species are certainly overharvested, but even greater damage results from large-scale habitat loss, which is likely to accelerate as technology advances the human footprint, the scientists reported.
Coral reefs, for example, have declined by 40 percent worldwide, partly as a result of climate-change-driven warming.
Some fish are migrating to cooler waters already. Black sea bass, once most common off the coast of Virginia, have moved up to New Jersey. Less fortunate species may not be able to find new ranges. At the same time, carbon emissions are altering the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic.
“If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” Dr. Pinsky said. “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to the oceans.”
Fragile ecosystems like mangroves are being replaced by fish farms, which are projected to provide most of the fish we consume within 20 years. Bottom trawlers scraping large nets across the sea floor have already affected 20 million square miles of ocean, turning parts of the continental shelf to rubble. Whales may no longer be widely hunted, the analysis noted, but they are now colliding more often as the number of container ships rises.
Mining operations, too, are poised to transform the ocean. Contracts for seabed mining now cover 460,000 square miles underwater, the researchers found, up from zero in 2000. Seabed mining has the potential to tear up unique ecosystems and introduce pollution into the deep sea.
The oceans are so vast that their ecosystems may seem impervious to change. But Dr. McClenachan warned that the fossil record shows that global disasters have wrecked the seas before. “Marine species are not immune to extinction on a large scale,” she said.
Until now, the seas largely have been spared the carnage visited on terrestrial species, the new analysis also found.
The fossil record indicates that a number of large animal species became extinct as humans arrived on continents and islands. For example, the moa, a giant bird that once lived on New Zealand, was wiped out by arriving Polynesians in the 1300s, probably within a century.
But it was only after 1800, with the Industrial Revolution, that extinctions on land really accelerated.
Humans began to alter the habitat that wildlife depended on, wiping out forests for timber, plowing under prairie for farmland, and laying down roads and railroads across continents.
Species began going extinct at a much faster pace. Over the past five centuries, researchers have recorded 514 animal extinctions on land. But the authors of the new study found that documented extinctions are far rarer in the ocean.
While these figures are likely underestimates, Dr. McCauley said that the difference was nonetheless revealing.
“Fundamentally, we’re a terrestrial predator,” he said. “It’s hard for an ape to drive something in the ocean extinct.”
Many marine species that have become extinct or are endangered depend on land — seabirds that nest on cliffs, for example, or sea turtles that lay eggs on beaches.
Still, there is time for humans to halt the damage, Dr. McCauley said, with effective programs limiting the exploitation of the oceans. The tiger may not be salvageable in the wild — but the tiger shark may well be, he said.
“There are a lot of tools we can use,” he said. “We better pick them up and use them seriously.”
Dr. McCauley and his colleagues argue that limiting the industrialization of the oceans to some regions could allow threatened species to recover in other ones. “I fervently believe that our best partner in saving the ocean is the ocean itself,” said Stephen R. Palumbi of Stanford University, an author of the new study.
The scientists also argued that these reserves had to be designed with climate change in mind, so that species escaping high temperatures or low pH would be able to find refuge.
“It’s creating a hopscotch pattern up and down the coasts to help these species adapt,” Dr. Pinsky said.
Ultimately, Dr. Palumbi warned, slowing extinctions in the oceans will mean cutting back on carbon emissions, not just adapting to them.
“If by the end of the century we’re not off the business-as-usual curve we are now, I honestly feel there’s not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean,” he said. “But in the meantime, we do have a chance to do what we can. We have a couple decades more than we thought we had, so let’s please not waste it.”

NY Times 
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1/09/2015

Mysterious seabird deaths


Scientists have been trying to figure out the cause of death of many sea birds alongside the shores of the Pacific Coast. The mysterious sea bird deaths number has been increasing since October 2014 and researers are investigating the possible causes.
One of the most affected sea bird species is Cassin’s aucklet, a small gray bird with a white belly. These sea birds have been disappearing from the rocky coasts of British Columbia and their disappearing extended to other areas such as California.
Seabird Survey Team and researchers from the University of Washington’s Coastal Observation have counted at least 1,200 dead birds which have been washed ashore since the fall of 2014. Diane Bilderback, one of the volunteers made sure to note that she had not found any the dead sea birds until the fall season.
The researchers said the sea bird deaths is not the real concern because it’s very common during the cold months, but the real concern is the large number of birds that have been dying recently.
Phillip Johnson, who is the executive director at the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, said that this is unprecedented, especially in these areas. Scientists first believed that the sea bird deaths were caused by pollution but they have ruled out this possibility when they discovered that the main cause of death is starvation. This makes the researchers wonder as why these sea birds cannot hunt for food.
One of the logical explanations that the scientists think of is the fact that the breeding season of these sea birds was more prolific and a large number of hatchlings must fight for food, especially because of the low supplies.
The scientists said that another explanation behind the sea bird deaths could be the increasing temperatures of the ocean and its recent rising level of acidity. These two factors can kill the sea birds’ main food, which is a fish called zooplankton. These two factors are the results of climate change which seriously damage the ecosystem.
In order to find what really causes the death of so many sea birds during this season, Wisconsin’s Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center will further investigate and conduct necropsies on the birds.
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