This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information.

Wildlife

Blob blamed for marine-life upheaval in Pacific

The blob isn’t consuming everything in its path — but it is having a notable impact on marine life in the region.

  • Nov 03, 2015
  • 293 words
  • 2 minutes
Chart: This sea surface temperature anomaly chart created November 2 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows an area of warmer-than-normal water off the coast of British Columbia, colloquially known as
Chart: This sea surface temperature anomaly chart created November 2 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows an area of warmer-than-normal water off the coast of British Columbia, colloquially known as "The Blob." (Image: NOAA)
Expand Image
Advertisement

Unlike its 1958 sci-fi classic namesake, the massive swath of warmer-than-average northeast Pacific Ocean known as the Blob isn’t consuming everything in its path — but it is having a notable impact on marine life in the region.

In California, for instance, reports the New York Times, stranded Guadalupe fur seals and emaciated sea lion pups are regularly turning up on the state’s shores. Meanwhile, in Haida Gwaii, B.C., says the Vancouver Province, fishermen have reported seeing an abundance of species more commonly found in the southern Pacific, including sunfish, leatherback turtles and great white sharks.

The Blob is having a far more serious effect on one of the ocean’s largest creatures, the whale. In September, Yahoo! News reported that 30 whales had been found dead in the western Gulf of Alaska since May, while six whales had been found dead in British Columbia in August.

Andrew Trites, director of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit, said the whales likely died after eating krill and sardines contaminated by a toxic algae bloom, a side effect of the warmer water temperature. “Each krill body was essentially a gel capsule full of poison,” he told the CBC. And if they ate enough of it, it’s going to cause brain damage, and eventually seizures. In the worst cases… it causes death.”

Read a more detailed explanation of how the Blob developed and what its impacts are here.

Advertisement

Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Polar Bears

This story is from the December 2015 Issue

Related Content

illegal wildlife trade, elephant foot, ivory, biodiversity

Wildlife

The illegal wildlife trade is a biodiversity apocalypse

An estimated annual $175-billion business, the illegal trade in wildlife is the world’s fourth-largest criminal enterprise. It stands to radically alter the animal kingdom.

  • 3405 words
  • 14 minutes
A grizzly bear lies dead on the side of the road

Wildlife

Animal crossing: Reconnecting North America’s most important wildlife corridor

This past summer an ambitious wildlife under/overpass system broke ground in B.C. on a deadly stretch of highway just west of the Alberta border. Here’s how it happened.

  • 3625 words
  • 15 minutes
sea star disease the blob

Environment

2019 was the warmest year on record for the world’s oceans. What does that mean for Canada?

Acidification, disruptions to food webs among the biggest concerns for ocean scientists

  • 933 words
  • 4 minutes

Wildlife

Do not disturb: Practicing ethical wildlife photography

Wildlife photographers on the thrill of the chase  — and the importance of setting ethical guidelines 

  • 2849 words
  • 12 minutes