Climate change: A triple threat for the ocean

Guest post by Heidi Cullen, MBARI

The ocean headlines these past few months have been unsettling.

Feds declare emergency as gray whale deaths reach highest level in nearly 20 years” (May 31, Monterey County Herald)

There are so many great whites at Santa Cruz beaches, locals are calling it ‘shark park’”(July 17, SFGate)

“‘Blob’ of warm Pacific water is back—could be trouble for marine life and weather”  (Sept. 10, San Francisco Chronicle)

A just-released scientific report connects these and a host of other ocean changes with human activities that take place largely on land. ... The report makes clear that to protect the ocean, we must first reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But we must also reduce ocean stresses caused by overfishing and pollution, so the ocean is healthy enough to weather the changes already underway.

Is the Blob Back? Warming Ocean Along the West Coast

At the annual meeting of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums we had an interesting conversation with the Director of Veterinary Services and Director of Applied Water Science at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Vet, Dr. Mike Murray, told us he had an unusual medical case, not the usual bird, sea otter or fish, but sick sand dollars. Dr. Mike loves invertebrates (as we do) and wanted to find out what was ailing the animals. Pathology revealed no bacteria or viral infections. So, he turned to Kasie Regnier, in charge of water quality science at the aquarium.

 

The New IPCC Report About the Oceans Is Alarming!

On September 25, 2019 the IPCC released a new special report about the state of the oceans and ice in the changing climate. The conclusions were startling!! Although we’ve been writing about climate crisis and the oceans for a while, the report puts in stark words the extent of the danger the oceans are in now.

The oceans have absorbed massive amounts of the heat and carbon dioxide generated by humans since 1970 – a third of the CO2 and over 90% of the heat— essentially protecting humanity from itself.  But there must be a limit to how much heat and CO2 the ocean can absorb and we may be reaching that limit soon.

RAIN FORESTS: Biodiversity at its Best

It was a foggy, drippy early morning when I decided to break away for a hike. It’s rare for me to go on a hike alone. I’m not going to lie—the trailhead warning of recent mountain lion and bear sightings did give me pause. But, not enough for me to turn back. And, while it was against my better judgement, I’m glad I persevered. The experience of hiking in Olympic National Park’s temperate rain forest was beyond exquisite.  It was soul quenching.

Taking steps into this rainforest was like walking into a giant acoustic tile. The ground was a bit springy, no sound except the occasional drop of water on a leaf and my breath expanding as it took in cleaner air. The more I climbed, the safer I felt.