Once rare, Oregon now has a regular hypoxia season — low-oxygen episodes in near-shore ocean waters — analogous to the wildfire threat that visits the state’s forests every year, scientists say. “It’s been much more prevalent over the past… Read More ›
“This El Nino is building up to be quite a doozy, but we also have a series of other changes going on,” said Steve Palumbi, director of the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University. “We are having changes in wind patterns, changes in upwellings along the coast. It’s like your whole basic ecosystem is being shifted around in different ways.”
“There is tremendous potential for good here,” said Fred Collins, Administrator of the Northern
Chumash Tribal Council. “A Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary will preserve and recognize
the importance of our tribal history, safeguard our shared coastal resources, and open new doors
for research and economic growth. We hope to move forward to designation as soon as possible.”
That culprit, ocean acidification, is the caustic cousin of climate change, and it shifts the chemistry of ocean water, making it harder for oysters to grow. That’s because about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, causing pH levels to plummet and making the water more acidic. The more pollution in the air, the more carbon dioxide the ocean absorbs.
Weird things are happening off the Pacific Coast.
And at the center of the action is a warm-water mass that scientists call “the blob.”
It’s turning the coastal ecosystem on its head. Species are dying along Washington, Oregon and northern California: sea stars, marine birds and sardines, among them.