Slugs and Salmon

July 8, 2015

hopkins_rose_3cThick, gray-overcast this early Wednesday on California’s north coast, and a damp feeling in the air, too. The NWS is forecasting some ‘heavy rain‘ eastward over in Trinity County today, complimented with a flash-flood watch — even here in the shoreline, between 20-to-60-percent chance of some ‘isolated‘ thunderstorms. (Contrast between WunderBlog and the NWS).
Right now, however, appears just a heavy marine layer wanting to splash a wet blanket on us.

In local environmental news, climate change creates strangers in new places — due to warming waters, our coast is being effected/affected by loss/arrival of creatures, one being pink sea slugs, which I’d posted about earlier this year, and an acid threat against pink salmon.

(Illustration: Hopkin’s’ rose, found here).

Earlier this year, there was a lot of excitement about the arrival of the sea slug, the the Hopkins’ rose nudibranch, which in the past was usually found way-down south in the San Diego area, but as the Pacific Ocean heats, the brightly-colored slug has migrated north, and seems at home here.
Via Redheaded Blackbelt on Monday: ‘“We’d never seen Hopkins’ rose nudibranchs in Humboldt until this year – now we’re seeing this,” tweeted local author and fish biologist M. Sid Kelly with the above photo.’ (at the link)

The warm-water movement and Terry Gosliner, curator of invertebrate zoology at the California Academy of Sciences and one of the world’s leading authorities on the soft-bodied marine invertebrates known as nudibranchs:

At low tide on the North Coast right now, the tidepools teem with these little guys. “A couple of my colleagues were tidepooling recently on the Mendocino coast and found 118 rose nudibranchs in an hour where before this warm year we would only see two or three in that area,” Gosliner says.
“This is not normal business as usual.”

Some scientists have warned of the “the rise of slime” in our future oceans.
The scenario, conjuring images of squishy masses climbing out of the sea like a bad sci-fi film, predicts a time when warming and acidic conditions allow hardy, soft-bodied invertebrates — like jellyfish, squid, starfish, and nudibranchs — to replace the less adaptable fish.
Gosliner and his colleagues suggest that some of that slime will be pink, and this recent bloom could be a harbinger of the future.

Also of the future, and apparently pretty-quick, too — ocean acidification, and the resulting impact on one of our delicacies up here, the pink salmon.
Via Climate Central:

Pink salmon in the Pacific Ocean face a double threat of acidification linked to greenhouse gas emissions since it slows their early growth in rivers and disrupts the chemistry of seawater.
Impacts have in the past been more studied in the seas than in fresh water.
But the Canadian study found that acidification of rivers could make young pink salmon, the most abundant type in the Pacific, smaller and more vulnerable to predators by dampening their ability to smell danger.
Damage done by acidification “in fresh water in pink salmon could occur in all other salmonids,” Colin Brauner, a co-author at the University of British Columbia, told Reuters.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas caused by burning fossil fuels, reacts with water to produce a weak acid. That especially threatens creatures ranging from oysters to lobsters which find it harder to build protective shells.
An international study in 2013 said acidification of the oceans was happening at the fastest pace for 55 million years, because of human greenhouse gas emissions.

Slug the salmon, kiss a fish…

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