By Don Ehrlich :: April 26, 2023
An entire pandemic ago, we brought you a two part series on the Blob – a section of the Pacific Ocean experiencing unusually warm surface waters. Unfortunately, warm water blobs aren’t limited to just surface waters. Deep water heat waves, areas of elevated temperatures that run along the sea floor without evidence on the surface, have escaped notice as scientists had been unable to measure until the impact hit fish stocks.
Evident in the salmon, cod and Dungeness crab harvests, the surface blob killed off a great deal of the krill they eat. The increased temperatures killed off young fish and eggs. Seafood returns faltered, seasons were canceled, and we are still waiting to see if numbers can bounce back despite a 2.7 degree (Fahrenheit) ocean temperature increase on top of the hot spot blobs. Thought it sounds like a minimal variance, it leads to bleaching coral reefs and death of reef fish, rapid migration of invasive species like lionfish and asian carp, and algal blooms that choke out light and food for small creatures fish depend on for food.
Again this year, forecasts for salmon are concerning. Only Upper Columbia River summer Chinook are expected to see significant increases with other areas hoping to meet the ten-year-average. Years of drought are impacting the California salmon population, despite this year being full of rain. The cycle takes around three years for precipitation to impact fish. Alaska expects pink salmon to far outpace last year, though sockeye may see lower numbers.
With scientists able to study the temperature fluctuations along the continental shelf in addition to at the surface, threats to marine ecosystems will be easier to predict. While we’ve looked at warmer water issues, quick fluctuations in temperatures can wreak havoc on fish populations, especially for lengthy migrations undertaken by wild salmon.
At CFI, we take temperatures very seriously. Whether it’s the current temp on a tarmac in the deep south this August, or the bitter cold of an Alaskan winter, your perishable cargo is in safe and experienced hands. Our cool chain services are unparalleled and our worldwide network of strategic partnerships give you peace of mind wherever your perishables need to be. Contact your CFI representative today to learn more.