Pacific Ocean “turning into a desert” off California

Guardian: Pacific Ocean “turning into a desert” off California — Experts: Entire generation of baby sea lions is dying; It’s incredible, it’s so unusual and there’s no good explanation for it; Expect same thing to happen again next year — Carts filled with emaciated dead bodies

The Guardian, May 11, 2015 (emphasis added): The waters of the Pacific off the coast of California are… so transparent it’s possible to see the sandy bottom… [The] clear water is a sign that the ocean is turning into a desert… 2,700 [sea lion pups] have already stranded in 2015 [NOAA reports it is now over 3,000 as of May 5] – a sign that something is seriously wrong… [NOAA’s Justin] Viezbicke sees it as a normal part of the cycle of nature, and notes that the climatologists… have yet to see evidence that climate change is involved. (CAPTION: A cart of deceased malnourished and dehydrated sea lions)

Shawn Johnson, Marine Mammal Center head veterinarian, Mar 20, 2015: “We’re having atsunami of sea lions… it’s been incredible.” — Ira Flatow, host: “I’m getting a mental picture of thebeaches just littered with these sea lions up and down the coast, is that correct?” — Johnson: “Yes. Especially down toward the southern part of California. There literally are sea lions on every beachThe lucky ones are making it to the beaches where we can find them”… — Flatow: “Are all the little pups going to die? A great number of them? Are you going to see no next generation, is it that dire?” — Johnson: “Yes, yes… The biologists out on the rookeries are saying that a whole cohort of these pups, thousands and thousands, are not surviving.”

The Guardian, May 7, 2015: The [sea lion pup] influx… is abating, but experts have warned of a repeat next year unless the Pacific Ocean swiftly cools… “It’s dropped off but we’re still receiving sea lions,” said Laura Scherr, of the Marine Mammal Center… “They’re coming in very emaciated – really just a bag of bones near death”… leaving them vulnerable to pneumonia, parasites and other ailments, she said. “They’re very sick“… The number of pups coming ashore has fallen [said Viezbicke]… The reduction reflected the finite number of sea lions, not improving conditions, he said. “There are only so many pups that are born.” Viezbicke said there were no estimates for how many had died.

Are the numbers ‘abating’ or ‘falling’? NOAA’s latest data shows 215 in the first 5 days of May — 43 per day, on pace to be the worst month on record. Yet the actual strandings are even higher; NOAA totals appear to only include pups taken to care centers, not total strandings: read more…