It is highly unusual to find species like ocean sunfish, mackerel, and Humbolt squid in Northwest waters, but over the past year, each of these species has been spotted in waters as far north as Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
The principal cause of the movement of these fish from southern to northern waters is the Blob. Though it may sound like the title of a cheesy sci-fi flick, the Blob is in fact a scientific term for a warm patch of ocean first detected in 2013 by a scientist at the University of Washington. In recent years this massive area of warm water has moved up from Southern California to the North Pacific.
The increasing heat of the Blob is a consequence of global warming. According to government climate officials, our oceans absorb a thousand times more heat than our atmosphere, and, last year, the average global sea surface temperature was the highest in recorded history.
The temperature of the Blob has grown by nearly 15 degrees over the past 12 months, and it will continue to increase as long as our winters fail to grow cold enough to produce storms to break up the warm water.
Along with other once-tropical species, both mackerel and Humbolt squid are now feeding on Northwest juvenile salmon. Scientists’ biggest concern about tropical fish traveling up to the Blob is the fact that they include predators that may eventually decimate native species, like salmon, which are vital to the Northwest ecosystem.
By Kiki Genoa