The current expanse of warm water stretches from Alaska to Southern California to Hawaii. It appears similar to conditions five years ago when the original “blob” was first taking shape, federal scientists said, although so far, the warmer-than-normal waters extend down only about 150 feet below the surface, rather than 600 feet five years ago.
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.
“Communities around the country are increasingly vulnerable to ocean acidification and long-term environmental changes,” said Richard Spinrad, chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and former OSU vice president for research. “It is crucial that we comprehend how ocean chemistry is changing in different places…”
“… the latest pH level readings from the world’s oceans indicate that these ancient pH levels have recently dropped to an average of 8.1. As the ocean becomes more acidic, the life cycles of marine organisms, especially zooplankton primarily found in surface waters and at the lower end of the food chain, could be affected.”
Rare changes in wind patterns this fall have caused the Pacific Ocean off our coast to warm to historic levels, according to scientists. In mid-October, it was 65 degrees off the Farallon Islands and in Monterey Bay; in most years, water temperatures in those areas would be in the high 50s or low 60s.