Some startling reports have been coming in the last week of rare sea creatures being washed up on the California shoreline. The creatures, rarely seen by man, have inexplicably died from undetermined reasons.
Two rare oarfish washing up have caused many to stop and take note, as these deep sea dwellers are seldom seem. Even just one washing up could be a once in a lifetime event. Scientists and researchers are both concerned by the recent deaths and puzzled as to the cause of the rare appearances of these seldom seen creatures.
The recent discovery of the 18-foot giant oarfish found off Santa Catalina Island on Oct. 13 was among the largest oarfish reported in nearly 20 years.
Following on the heels of that discovery was another 14-foot fish which was beached in Oceanside last Friday. The oarfish was dissected and examined by scientists yesterday.
Results from the research could take years to complete, scientists said.
Between the discovery of of both oarfish another very rare sea creature also washed up on the shores of Venice Beach in California on Oct. 13. The rare 15-foot-long female Stejneger's beaked whale normally prefers frigid subarctic waters and has rarely been seen in the wild.
Combined together with the other recent mass marine die-offs and the recent release of the The State of the Ocean Report 2013 from an international panel of marine scientists, it's clear that the oceans are indeed dying and a mass extinction is underway.
The report carries ominous news: "Oxygen levels are dropping and ocean waters are acidifying at the fastest rate in at least 300 million years when the greatest marine extinction in earth's history took place."
The discovery of these rare ocean dwellers is not the only news that has scientists concerned. Other species of marine life have been rapidly disappearing, among them million of sardines off the coast of British Columbia. Commercial fisherman were shocked recently when they could not find one sardine on their recent fishing trips, indicating that a $32 million dollar fishery has collapsed. The fisherman have given up looking for sardines this year.
“They've given up looking, pulled the plug,” confirmed Lorne Clayton, executive director of the Canadian Pacific Sardine Association,“It certainly was disappointing. It’s cost them time, fuel, and crew to go out and look, with no compensation.”
In another recent report from the Canadian Press, starfish have also been dying off by the thousands, turning into mush in the ocean. The Vancouver Aquarium is ‘alarmed’ at the mass die-off of starfish that is happening on the ocean floor. “They’re gone. It’s amazing,” said Donna Gibbs, a research diver and taxonomist on the aquarium’s Howe Sound Research and Conservation group.
“Whatever hit them, it was like wildfire and just wiped them out.”
Not only are the starfish dying on the West Coast but reports have been coming in of the same things happening on the East Coast. In July, researchers at the University of Rhode Island reported that sea stars were dying in a similar way from New Jersey to Maine, and the university was working with colleagues at Brown and Roger Williams universities to figure out the cause.
The starfish die-off is also happening to other species including Chitons, Abalone, Mussels, Sun Stars and Salmon from the West Coast of California to Vancouver (see video of the mass die-off event)
Add to that recent dolphin and whale strandings, coral reef destruction and other mortality reports of marine life - and the prognosis is grim. Recent reports of yellow salmon have also been coming in. Researchers are mystified as to the cause of healthy salmon turning a ghastly yellow.
A recent review by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean is a warning: According to the IPSO, the evidence is clearer than ever that the effect of climate change is being felt most acutely by the world’s seas. Vast expanses of the ocean absorb heat and CO2 and the results are having disastrous effects on marine life.
The oceans are increasingly acidifying; warmer water holds less oxygen; and combined with overfishing and pollution from heavy metals, organochlorines and plastics, the outlook is darker than ever. Not to mention the effects that the fallout from the Fukushima Nuclear disaster present:
In a recent article by the Los Angeles Times, an estimated 60 billion becquerels of cesium-137 and strontium-90 are being discharged daily into the Pacific from the ditch at the north end of the reactors [outside of the harbor], said Michio Aoyama, senior researcher at the geochemical research department of the Meteorological Research Institute at the Japan Meteorological Agency. It has been determined that the amount of radiation coming from Fukushima is 6,500 times the normal limit. In addition to the radiation, debris from Fukushima has also littered the ocean far and wide:
Sailor Ivan Macfadyen, a frequent sailor on the ocean, was shocked and horrified on a recent voyage from Osaka Japan to San Francisco. Macfayden reports that,"After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead."
"We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumor on its head. It was pretty sickening."
"I've done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I'm used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3,000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen."
In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.
"Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it's still out there, everywhere you look."
There is also growing speculation that large amounts of methane gas being emitted from the ocean may be the cause of or contributing to the death of the marine life.
Methane gas, also known in some circles as "the ticking time bomb", is theorized to have caused mass extinctions in the past. Methane gas has been way above normal levels within the last few weeks, concerning scientists and researchers.
According to Sam Carana at the Arctic News Blog, this is a situation we need to be very concerned about: Carana says, "This is a very dangerous situation, since high levels of methane have been recorded over the Arctic Ocean for more than a month now. Furthermore, large amounts of methane have vented in the Laptev Sea area in previous years."
A large release of methane could have catastrophic effects to life on earth.
Although climate change was hotly debated for many years, recent polls show that people are starting to understand the serious effects of climate change, including the potential death of our oceans.
Michael E. Mann, Climate Scientist, Professor at Penn State University and author of "Dire Predictions" & "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars", had this to say recently:
"Never did I imagine, when my co-authors and I published the 'hockey stick' curve a decade and a half ago, that I would find myself at the center of the larger debate over human-caused climate change," said Mann. "But regardless of how I ended up a prominent figure in the debate, I consider myself privileged to be in a position to inform the societal discourse over the greatest threat humans have ever faced, the threat of dangerous and potentially irreversible climate change."
Paul Beckwith, part-time professor and a PhD student with the laboratory for paleoclimatology and climatology at the University of Ottawa, recently stated that he believes we have now entered into a state of abrupt climate change and that, "We have lost our stable climate," which means that the climate can drastically change in a relatively short period of time, sometimes even within years. Read more about the "Tipping Point" here: The tipping point and its effects - the climate change warming point of no return.
Beckwith states that,"We have lost our stable climate. Likely permanently. Rates of change are greatly exceeding anything in the paleorecords. By at least 10x, and more likely >30x. We are heading to a much warmer world. The transition will be brutal for civilization."
Putting all these reports and events together, it does seem that our worst nightmare facing civilization is now playing out in real time. It does seem that we have indeed hit the "Tipping Point" and that our oceans are urgently crying out to us in death, destruction and despair.
The question is now, is there anything we can do about it?
You can follow Dorsi Diaz on Twitter and also here at HubPages where she publishes articles about climate change and educating through art. Her website is www.DorsiDiaz.com. You can also join our group: Citizens Concerned about Climate Change (CCCC) on Facebook.