Blog on ocean conditions along the Newport Line and the northern CA Current.
We've been sampling a grid of stations each June since 1998. These stations span from Newport, Oregon, to the northern tip of Washington State and extend from 1 to 30 miles offshore. Although each June is unique in some aspects, June of 2017 was the strangest we've yet encountered in many ways.
The first thing we noticed was the pyrosomes that were in high abundance, everywhere. Pyrosoma atlanticum are colonial pelagic tunicates, and reports were coming in of high numbers of them in areas mostly further south of where we sample. But we were catching them for the first time off of northern Washington!
Moreover, catches of many of our fish species were quite different than an average year (some more abundant, some less so). The juvenile salmon that are the focus of this study were very scarce - one of the lowest in the 20 years of the time series.
However, warm water species, such as Pacific pompano and jack mackerel (a potential predator on juvenile salmon) were found in high numbers. All of these things point to a much altered ecosystem in this region, and do not bode well for salmon returns.
Due to the unusual nature of these findings, we engaged in multiple outreach efforts to get the word out. More info on these findings can be found at the Associated Press and the NW Fisheries Science Center website.