By Michael Slezak
14 August 2016
(Guardian) – First seabirds started falling out of the sky, washing up on beaches from California to Canada.
Then emaciated and dehydrated sea lion pups began showing up, stranded and on the brink of death.
A surge in dead whales was reported in the same region, and that was followed by the largest toxic algal bloom in history seen along the Californian coast. Mixed among all that there were population booms of several marine species that normally aren’t seen surging in the same year.
Plague, famine, pestilence, and death were sweeping the northern Pacific Ocean between 2014 and 2015.
This chaos was caused by a single massive heatwave, unlike anything ever seen before. But it was not the sort of heatwave we are used to thinking about, where the air gets thick with warmth. This occurred in the ocean, where the effects are normally hidden from view.
Nicknamed “the blob”, it was arguably the biggest marine heatwave ever seen. It may have been the worst but wide-scale disruption from marine heatwaves is increasingly being seen all around the globe, with regions such as Australia seemingly being hit with more than their fair share. [more]