While natural causes in the environment are partially to blame, so too are the corporations of man; there is no doubt that the effects of Fukushima radiation is devastating while the cumulative effect of modern chemicals and agricultural waste is also tainting the water and disrupting reproduction. Radiation from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan has unleashed untold levels of radiation into the ocean and onto Pacific shores, while the media either does not report the gravity of the worst disaster in human history, or chooses to play it down
Experts concerned that the food chain in the Pacific ocean is “crashing” have been asking “where have all the fish gone?” Recently, the collapse of the sardine population caused a crisis whereby fishery along the entire West coast had to be closed Thousands of Sea lions have been washing up on California beaches and have people wondering if this is related to the Fukushima disaster or to warming water in the Pacific.
The gruesome auklet deaths came just as scientists around the globe started to notice a significant uptick in mass-mortality events in the marine world, from sea urchins to fish and birds. The stories are out there and the information is easy to find. A new report by Ocean Health says in no uncertain terms that the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California is turning into a desert. Once full of life, it is now becoming barren, and marine mammals, seabirds and fish are starving as a result.
They write: The ocean off the coast of California is “turning into a desert” – marine ecosystem crash is unprecedented
The waters of the Pacific off the coast of California are a clear, shimmering blue today, so transparent it’s possible to see the sandy bottom below. Viewing the ocean from the state’s famous craggy headlands, it’s impossible to know that the ocean’s unusual clarity is hiding a cruel beauty: clear water is a sign that the ocean is turning into a desert, and the chain reaction that causes that bitter clarity is perhaps most obvious on the beaches of the Golden State, where thousands of emaciated sea lion pups are stranded. Sea lions are a ubiquitous part of the Californian landscape – they’re up and down beaches, piers and wharfs, with an overall population estimated at around 300,000. They have the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to thank for their existence, passed by Congress in response to concerns about dwindling populations of marine mammals, including sea lions.
Now, the familiar creatures have become victims of their own success, with some arguing that their population may have reached natural capacity, and others blaming it on changing environmental conditions in California. Over the last three years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has noticed a growing number of strandings on the beaches of California and up into the Pacific north-west. In 2013, 1,171 sea lions were stranded, and 2,700 have already stranded in 2015 – a sign that something is seriously wrong, as pups don’t normally wind up on their own until later in the spring and early summer. The problem, explains Justin Viezbicke of NOAA, is those crystal-clear waters. “The main contributing factor that we’re looking at right now and talking about with the biologists and climatologists on the Channel Islands [a major sea lion rookery] is the lack of upwelling. We haven’t had the strong north winds that drive the currents that create it, and because it hasn’t materialized – it’s moved the prey further and deeper from the moms that are foraging.” –Guardian
Nate Mantua, NOAA: “[An unusually large number of sea lions stranding in 2013 was a red flag] there was a food availability problem even before the ocean got warm.” Johnson: This has never happened before… It’s incredible. It’s so unusual, and there’s no really good explanation for it. There’s also a good chance that the problem will continue, said a NOAA research scientist in climatology, Nate Mantua.
Experts blame a lack of food due to unusually warm ocean waters. NOAA declared an El Nino, the weather pattern that warms the Pacific, a few weeks ago. The water is three and a half to six degrees warmer than the average, according to Mantua, because of a lack of north wind on the West Coast. Ordinarily, the north wind drives the current, creating upwelling that brings forth the nutrients that feed the sardines, anchovies and other fish that adult sea lions feed on. –ERN