Zooplankton decline reported in North Atlantic

Nov 19, 2013 by David Sharp

The microscopic creatures that make up a critical link in the ocean food chain declined dramatically the first half of this year in the North Atlantic as ocean temperatures remained among the warmest on record, U.S. scientists say.

Springtime plankton blooms off the coast of northern New England were well below average this year, leading to the lowest levels ever seen for the tiny organisms, said Kevin Friedland, a marine scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The absence of the normal surge of plankton in the spring is a concern because that's when cod and haddock and many other species produce offspring, Friedland said.

"The first six months of 2013 can be characterized by new extremes in the physical and biological environment," Friedland said.

The findings come after temperatures off the Northeast U.S. hit an all-time high in 2012.

This year, during the first six months in the North and Middle Atlantic remained the third warmest on record, Friedland said.

The data remains in line with an overall warming of the ocean. The warming ocean worries many fishermen in the North Atlantic.

Warm water was blamed for lobsters shedding their shells far earlier than usual in 2012, leading to a glut that caused prices to plummet and created turmoil in the industry in Maine and Canada. Fishermen across New England also have reported finding fish in their nets that are normally found far to the south.

Bob Nudd, a lobsterman in New Hampshire, said he's seeing plenty of , a species that he used to see only occasionally. He's also seeing more shell disease in lobster, something many fishermen blame on the warmer temperatures.

"I'm not a scientist and I don't know how much temperature change it takes to change the system, but I don't think it's much. And we're definitely seeing a warming trend," said Nudd, 66. "Things are not going to be the way they were in the past. That's about all I can say about that."

Explore further: Tiny sea creatures are heading for extinction, and could take local fisheries with them

4.3 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sea surface temperatures reach highest level in 150 years

Apr 26, 2013

Sea surface temperatures in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during 2012 were the highest recorded in 150 years, according to the latest Ecosystem Advisory issued by NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science ...

Recommended for you

Indonesia to ratify ASEAN haze agreement

35 minutes ago

Indonesia's parliament on Tuesday voted to ratify a regional agreement on cross-border haze as fires ripped through forests in the west of the country, choking neighbouring Singapore with hazardous smog.

Study urges 15-year plan for low-carbon growth

2 hours ago

The world can save both financial and environmental costs by shifting toward a low-carbon economy over the next 15 years, a high-level panel said Tuesday ahead of a UN summit.

Specialized species critical for reefs

14 hours ago

One of Australia's leading coral reef ecologists fears that reef biodiversity may not provide the level of insurance for ecosystem survival that we once thought.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Howhot
not rated yet Nov 20, 2013
This is another bad omen of our future after anthropogenic global warming ticks up the global temperatures a notch or two.

"The first six months of 2013 can be characterized by new extremes in the physical and biological environment,"

"Springtime plankton blooms off the coast of northern New England were well below average this year"

"temperatures off the Northeast U.S. hit an all-time high in 2012."

"Things are not going to be the way they were in the past. That's about all I can say about that."

And that is the way it is everywhere. Gobal warming deniers must live in caves, spout a political talking point view, or are just paid trolls for the carbon industry.