Ocean Economics

“…something’s off-kilter around the Bering Strait…”

n February, southwest winds brought warm air and turned thin sea ice into “snow cone ice” that melted or blew off. When a storm pounded Norton Sound, water on Feb. 12 surged up the Yukon River and into Kotlik, flooding low-lying homes. Lifelong resident Philomena Keyes, 37, awoke to knee-deep water outside her house.

“This is the first I experienced in my life, a flood that happened in the winter, in February,” Keyes said in a phone interview.

Hippocratic Oath For Ocean Protections?

The marine environment globally is challenged by a number of factors, including environmental degradation, habitat destruction, overfishing, and climate change, so there is a real need for protection. Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the international community has agreed that we will protect 10 percent of the oceans in marine protected areas by 2020.

Pacific West Coast Kelp Forests Vanishing

Veteran diver Steve Lackey, an instructor at Sub-Surface Progression Dive Shop in Fort Bragg, said, “I try not to be an alarmist, but it is pretty unprecedented, in my opinion.”

This time of year, he’s accustomed to seeing small sprouts of kelp begin to appear on the ocean floor, a harbinger of the spring and summer growing season. This year, there are none, he said.

“I don’t remember quite this clean, this kind of scoured rock, with hungry invertebrates,” he said.