L.A. Times: Alarming West Coast sardine crash likely radiating through ecosystem — Experts warn marine mammals and seabirds are starving, may suffer for years to come — Boats return without a single fish — Monterey Bay: Hard to resist idea that humpback whales are trying to tell us something

Monday, January 6, 2014
By Paul Martin

January 5th, 2014

Captain Corbin Hanson, Southern California, Jan. 5, 2014: [He was] growing more desperate as the night wore on. After 12 hours and $1,000 worth of fuel, [they] returned to port without a single fish. “Tonight’s pretty reflective of how things have been going […] Not very well.” […] If his crew catches sardines these days, they are larger, older fish […] Largely absent are the small and valuable young fish […] the voice of another boat captain lamented over the radio, “I haven’t seen a scratch.” […] By daybreak, Hanson was piloting the hulking boat back to the docks with nothing in its holds.

Los Angeles Times, Jan. 5, 2014:

West Coast sardine crash could radiate throughout ecosystem
[T]he biggest sardine crash in generations
[S]cientists say the effects are probably radiating throughout the ecosystem, starving brown pelicans, sea lions and other predators
[E]xperts warn the West Coast’s marine mammals, seabirds and fishermen could suffer for years
The reason for the drop is unclear
[T]he decline is the steepest since the collapse of the sardine fishery in the mid-20th century
[T]heir numbers are projected to keep sliding
[T]he crash is raising alarm
[T]here is evidence some ocean predators are starving without sardines
Scarcity of prey is the leading theory behind the 1,600 malnourished sea lion pups that washed up along beaches from Santa Barbara to San Diego in early 2013, said Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist at the National Marine Fisheries Service
Biologists also suspect the drop is hurting brown pelicans [which] have shown signs of starvation and have largely failed to breed or rear chicks there since 2010
Normally, pelicans and sea lions would adapt by instead gobbling up anchovies […] aside from an unusual boom in Monterey Bay, anchovy numbers are depressed too
Monterey County Weekly, Jan. 1, 2014: Whale spouts shoot up from the left, right and center […] juvenile sea lions number in the hundreds […] Then, two humpbacks break the surface just 50 feet from the boat […] There’s so much poetry in motion that it’s hard to resist the idea that you are witnessing something historic, that these humpback whales – nearly all of whom normally migrate to Mexico some time in the fall – are trying to tell us something. And they are, if we listen. There’s a simple explanation why this fall’s whale watching season was so unusually epic on Monterey Bay: anchovies. […] The one thing everyone agrees on is that sardines are crashing, and quickly. […]

Nov. 7, 2013: ‘Extraordinary’ whale and dolphin encounters off Canada’s Pacific coast “could have a deeper meaning” — “We see them as our relatives, as ancestors… It’s for the better of all of us to listen” (VIDEO)

Oct. 15, 2013: ‘Troubling Mystery’: Complete collapse of sardine population on West Coast of Canada around Vancouver — Official: It’s ‘unexpected’ — Expert: Humpback whales rarely seen, they’re telling us something changed… nobody knows what’s going on

Dec. 20, 2013: Gov’t Report: Fukushima ocean plume hit Canada 6 months ago — “Precedes model predictions by several years” — ‘Human health’ is first reason listed for study (MAP)

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