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Subject: Troubles in the North Pacific -Reply
From: Jeffrey Childs <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Academic forum on fisheries ecology and related topics <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 7 Aug 1997 13:14:04 -0500

text/plain (51 lines)

The North Pacific has witnessed some of the warmest, dryest, weather on
record this season, and may be causing reductions in some salmon
populations of Alaska. The major sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay,
Alaska, was particularly bewildering as all pre- and in-season population
indices taken in cooler offshore waters showed total returns in the
vicinity of 34 million fish, but inshore returns were in the range of 20
million.  What happened to the missing 14 million fish is currently the
subject of great speculation.

This mornings' Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News reports significant numbers
of seabirds washing ashore in Western Alaska.  The species involved
are murres, puffins, kittiwakes and bald eagles.  Numbers are sketchy now,
but it's clear that something is causing a change in the North Pacific and
Bering Sea ecosystem and may explain this die-off.

I would like to discuss this matter in more detail off-listserver with
anyone interested.  I've got several questions that include speculation
outside the bounds of normal scientific protocol that could prove

I also have one question from the above article where a National Marine
Fisheries Service biologist stated that "primary production goes down and
reduces food..." as a result of ocean temperatures of 17 degrees C;
normal ocean temperatures are about 6 degrees lower.  This implies a
bell-shaped curve in productivity, but my expectation would
be a sigmoid curve response.  Can anyone please elaborate on this?

Best regards,
Brian Bigler
Seattle, Washington

Dear Brian,

Although my work is being conducted in the Gulf of Mexico, I suggest you
investigate the effects of El Nino on the west coast of North America.
NOAA has for the first time forecast successfully the development of
another El Nino event beginning this spring / summer.  Such an event can
dramatically impact the movements and migrations of marine fauna,
including seabirds, pelagic fishes and marine mammals.

Good Luck,

Jefferson Childs
Marine Vertebrate Ecologist
Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences Dept.
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-2258
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