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Thread: Interesting article

  1. #1

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    The Independent, UK

    Fish numbers plummet in warming Pacific

    Disappearance of plankton causes unprecedented collapse in sea and bird life off western US coast

    By Geoffrey Lean in San Francisco
    Published: 13 November 2005

    A catastrophic collapse in sea and bird life numbers along America's Northwest Pacific seaboard is raising fears that global warming is beginning to irreparably damage the health of the oceans.

    Scientists say a dramatic rise in the ocean temperature led to unprecedented deaths of birds and fish this summer all along the coast from central California to British Columbia in Canada.

    The population of seabirds, such as cormorants, auklets and murres, and fish, including salmon and rockfish, fell to record lows.

    This ecological meltdown mirrors a similar development taking place thousands of miles away in the North Sea, which The Independent on Sunday first reported two years ago. Also caused by warming of the water, the increase in temperatures there has driven the plankton that form the base of the marine food chain hundreds of miles north, triggering a collapse in the number of sand eels on which many birds and large fish feed and causing a rapid decline in puffins, razorbills, kittiwakes and other birds.

    The collapses in the Pacific are also down to the disappearance of plankton, though the immediate cause for this is different. Normally, winds blow south along the coast in spring and summer, pushing warmer surface waters away
    from the shore and allowing colder water that is rich in nutrients to well up from the sea bottom, feeding the microscopic plants called phytoplankton. These are eaten by zooplankton, tiny animals that in turn feed fish, seabirds and marine mammals.

    But this year the winds were extraordinarily weak and the cold water did not well up in spring as usual. Water temperatures soared to 7C above normal, which delighted bathers but caused the whole delicate system to collapse.
    The amount of phytoplankton crashed to a quarter of its usual level.

    "In 50 years this has never happened," said Bill Peterson, an oceanographer with the US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, in Newport, Oregon.

    Record numbers of dead seabirds soon washed up on beaches along the coast. There were up to 80 times more dead Brandt's cormorants, a fishing bird, than in previous years.

    Tests showed the birds died of starvation. "They are not finding enough food, and so they use up the energy stored in their muscles, liver and body fat," said Hannah Nevins, who investigated similar mass deaths in Monterey Bay.

    Many fear the ecological collapse is a portent of things to come, as the world heats up. A Canadian Government report noted that ocean temperatures off British Colombia reached record levels last year as well, blaming general warming of global lands and oceans". And Professor Ronald Neilson,
    of Oregon State University, added: "The oceans are generally warming up and there are all sorts of signs that something strange is afoot."

    And global warming is not happening.
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  2. #2
    War. War never changes. Est's Avatar
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    Completely disregarding global warming, the oceans are pretty screwed right now. People have always thought of the ocean as this great abundant never-ending source of food. Right.

    Trawlers destroy habitats, they destroy the entire ocean floor; homes, coral, deepsea anything and everything.

    Nets have a gross amount of bycatch- things that they don't mean to catch, don't want, and just throw back.

    Longlining leads to larger animals which aren't meant to be caught being killed (turtles have a problem along with sharks.)

    Aquaculture in the ocean lead to the possabilities of comingling with native populations which is a bad thing since the fish inside the pens are genetically altered. Furthermore, fish in aquaculture are often fed a fish meal- that is, more fish; only 10% of the energy is used for anything other than homeostasis and vital body functions, and it takes energy to get the fish from which the mean is created.

    The list of crappy things going on in the ocean go on and on and on. We need to realize that we can't just screw with the ocean and that we as customers have purchasing power. There is farmed fish that is very economically sound, but there are many operations which are more destructive than fishing them out of the ocean! Shrimp are a prime example: if you want to buy environmentally friendly raised shrip, then buy ones farmed in the US (what do you do as a farmer when the land finally gives out on ya or you get out competed... Well some have taken to farming shrimp, their practices are very well thought out.)

    I'm sorry for rambling, but I feel it's related to the article and topic. For anyone who is curious as to what they can do as a customer:
    This link is to the Montey Bay Aqaurium Seafood watch guide, you can look to see what fish are good to eat and from where.


    This is the conservation page of the MBAQ. There's a lot that you can do, even just as a customer. We all need to eat, and many fish taste nice, but you can do yourself and the ocean a favour by making good decisions. If your grocery store doesn't carry any seafood options which are environmentally sound, then let them know! Voice your opinion! Thank you. :- )

    --Edit-- BTW, I just noticed that it mentions the Montery Bay Aquarium in the article. Anyone has has the opportunity to visit really should, it's pretty darn good!
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  3. #3
    endparenthesis's Avatar
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    I have a feeling the balance is already disrupted past the point of no return... we just aren't aware of it yet.

  4. #4
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    There's strange goings around here. I dive in the Puget Sound and sometimes spearfish, and the catch has been enormous this year. Small fish are hard to come by. My roommate and I have found enormous flounder and cod right out in the open in the middle of the day, looking for food. There's been a lot more dead young crab than usual too. I didn't realize that it had to do with some sort of ENSO effect. And it's happening in Monterey Bay, too - that's like every place I've ever lived. What a bummer.
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  5. #5
    Norhtern Michigan Dragway Mama *Barracuda_45*'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (endparenthesis @ Nov. 14 2005,1:51)]I have a feeling the balance is already disrupted past the point of no return... we just aren't aware of it yet.
    I gota agree and i also think it will deffinately get alot worse. I have been seeing critters i normaly dont see here where i live, very unusual, our leafs on the trees drop earlier and earlier each yr. Our winter has been extermly mild and tonight is the first time we have had snow and its sticking to the ground, normaly we have snow way befour this. JR and i have noticed a change in the lakes around us, its very sad..
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