Hot Pacific Ocean Runs Bloody — Blob Now Features Record Red Tide

Red Tide. It’s what happens when massive algae blooms cover vast regions of ocean.

The biological density of the blooms is so great that they can paint the waters affected a shade of brown or red. A bloody color indicative of clouds of dangerous microbes just beneath the surface. And today, a massive Red Tide — perhaps the largest ever recorded — now stretches from California to Alaska along a vast stretch of the North American West Coast already reeling under the ongoing and dangerous impact of a massive ocean heating event that researchers have called ‘The Blob.’

Red Tide

(A Red Tide can paint the ocean in bloody shades as seen in the image above. It’s also bad news for many marine species — first due to production of deadly biotoxins and second due to its ability to rob ocean waters of oxygen as the bloom dies off and decays. Image source: Wind’s Sustainability Blog.)

A Red Tide has numerous impacts to both marine life and human industry. Microbes within the tide produce biotoxins that are deadly to marine species. Domoic acid, PSP and DSP are all toxins that have been identified during the current Red Tide event. The toxins primarily affect fish and marine mammals — risking mass fish and dolphin, sea lion, seal, otter, and whale deaths during widespread blooms. The toxins concentrate as they move up the food chain, making them most dangerous to top predators. Primary effects of the most lethal toxins are convulsions and paralysis. Other toxins cause nausea, cramps and diarrhea.

Human beings are also at risk and for this reason crab and shellfish fisheries all up and down the US West Coast are being closed. Impacts are so widespread marine ecologists like Vera Trainer, manager of the Marine Microbes and Toxins Programs at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, are calling the event unpredented:

“The fact that we’re seeing multiple toxins at the same time, we’re seeing high levels of domoic acid, and we’re seeing a coastwide bloom — those are indications that this is unprecedented.”

Global Warming, Hot Blob — Prime Suspects

Scientists currently suspect extreme Northeastern Pacific Ocean heat led to the sudden appearance of Red Tide this week — a combination of warm and nutrient rich waters are well known to be the key ingredients for Red Tide formation. Ingredients that are increasingly prevalent due to human fossil fuel burning. Ingredients that are increasingly evident in the Northeastern Pacific. In short the burning of fossil fuels both warms the atmosphere and ocean even as it seeds the surface water with nitrogen. The warm water is a preferred environment for the microbes that form the Red Tide and the nitrogen — both as a constant rain from the sky due to fossil fuel emission and as effluent from streams due to farm runoff — essentially fertilizes the bloom.

It is for these reasons that many scientists suspect the hot Blob of water in the Northeastern Pacific has played a role in the formation of the current unprecedented Red Tide.

image

(The Northeastern Pacific hot Blob now features a dangerous Red Tide — perhaps the largest and most toxin laden Red Tide ever seen. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Warming the world ocean through human carbon emissions is thus a very dangerous consequence. Now, more and more regions are featuring hot zones that are increasingly deadly to sea life. This region of the Northeast Pacific in particular has seen a number of instances of mass ocean creature death due to impacts associated with warming waters. The recent Red Tide being the last of a long chain including a mass starfish die-off, fish kills, bird kills, and marine mammal deaths and disruption — including a winter and spring emergence of crowds of starving sea lion pups along California beaches.

Next Step — Anoxia, Possible Hydrogen Sulfide Issue

This particular Red Tide is still in its early stages. It could last for weeks. But as it reaches its last days, the mass production of microbial life will rob the ocean surface of the nutrients necessary to sustain it. As this happens, the microbes will experience a sudden die-off. The mass of dead microbes will then sink and decay. This decay will further rob already de-oxygenated waters, particularly off Washington and Seattle, of still more oxygen. So the final act of this particular Red Tide will be to make a bad ocean water oxygen situation in many of the affected regions even worse (in the worst case potentially setting some zones up for an ugly deep water hydrogen sulfide production).

Links:

Toxic Algae Bloom May be the Largest Ever

Huge Bloom of Toxic Algae Hits US West Coast

NOAA (Please Support!)

Sea Lion Sickness

Awakening the Horrors of the Ancient Hothouse — Hydrogen Sulfide in the World’s Warming Oceans

Starving Sea Lion Pups and Liquified Starfish How Human Warming is Turning The Eastern Pacific Into a Death Trap for Marine Species

Hat Tip to Andy in San Diego

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50 Comments

  1. climatehawk1

     /  June 17, 2015

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  2. This is bad.

    I remember the Red Tide warnings whenever there was a bloom off the South Shore of greater Boston when I was growing up: don’t go in the water, don’t eat the shellfish. Because Red Tide is toxic.

    Now this is the most immense, and perhaps the most intense Red Tide I have ever seen. Should’ve figured the stranded tuna crabs were telling us that something was amiss with the ocean.

    This is bad. This is real bad.

    Reply
    • EPac not looking very good. This long list of sea creature deaths is very concerning.

      Reply
      • Indeed. Thinking back on your previous articles, we’ve been witnessing large numbers of deaths from creatures on every level of the food chain. It seems crazy (beyond the default crazy that modern America has become) that entire ecosystems (one that humans depend on!) are on the verge of collapse and not only is the mainstream media not connecting the dots, they’re barely mentioning the dots! Hearing about mass die offs of a single species is disturbing, but when one takes a step back and looks at all the die offs occurring on the west coast through all levels of the food chain it becomes truly frightening. It’s makes me think that as civilization crumbles around us the top stories will still be about Black Friday sales and who won the latest reality tv show. A desparate situation we find ourselves in.

        Reply
  3. Reblogged this on jpratt27.

    Reply
  4. “The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

    The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood, and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died…”

    Reply
    • Yvan Dutil

       /  June 18, 2015

      As Is aid in a comment that did not pass : This is a catastrophe truly of biblical proportion!

      Reply
  5. Andy in San Diego

     /  June 18, 2015

    The list of mass deaths in the EPac for the past 36 to 48 months should be soundly raising an alarm. If not with the general honey boo boo public, at least with the fishermen.

    All cogs of the food chain have suffered a mass death now in the region, it is widespread collapse. And nobody cares, or dares to look and admit it. What is happening globally with these rapidly occurring events, seemingly accelerating in frequency implies that issues much larger than people realize are afoot and will stun the connected world when it is undeniable.

    To me the silence is deafening.

    Reply
    • Steven Blaisdell

       /  June 18, 2015

      “stun the connected world when it is undeniable.” Yep. Humans, people – good, honest, regular folks – have no immediate reason to believe we cannot innovate, build, struggle, fight, think, and push our way through any challenge. I think the biggest challenge amongst many when it comes to awareness of the true nature of the AGW threat is the industrialized world’s almost complete dissociation from the natural world, the almost complete disconnection from the sun, wind, earth, forest, plains, sky….. It’s going to hit in decadal jumps of awfulness, each time pushing a few more into awareness. But yes, I think the “stunning” of humankind has begun. It’s hard to see how this doesn’t end badly, especially for the world’s poorest and least culpable. But everyone’s going to be hit, and hit increasingly hard.

      Reply
    • “The honey boo boo public”- brilliant phrase! I couldn’t agree more, Andy. To those of us who keep ourselves informed regarding climate change, we have been bombarded with reports of mass deaths through every level of the good chain, yet the average American has no clue about the disturbing trend emerging. Even if a story makes the news about dead seal ions or dissolving sea stars, or animals being found far outside their normal range, it is presented as a singular event, a curiosity that gets 30 seconds of coverage at the tail end of a broadcast. NEVER is it presented as a single piece of a much larger, and much more serious problem…or a problem at all. It is an extremely frustrating, and depressing, situation. Eventually it will be impossible to ignore.

      Reply
      • eric smith

         /  June 22, 2015

        Ryan,
        The Today show reported a small sea lion pup that climbed into a bass a snuggled to the owner. They all laughed so hard- “Its SO cute”.

        They were clueless that the pup had lost its mother to the red tide.

        The idiocy is beyond measure.

        Reply
      • eric smith

         /  June 22, 2015

        Ryan,
        Boat not bass. How did I manage that one?
        Sorry.

        Reply
  6. Syd Bridges

     /  June 18, 2015

    Thank you, Robert. Yet another timely post, reminding us that the Age of Consequences has now arrived. And all this has been predictable for many years. You covered one of the few bright spots with your recent post on Pope Francis.

    Having watched this problem develop since 1961, when a science teacher told us about it, I have wondered whether I would live to see it. Now, just approaching retirement, I see it bearing-in fact, barrelling-down upon us. Anyone who is not concerned is either very myopic and ill-informed, or criminally wilfully ignorant. The punches that the climate used to throw from time to time are now turning into a blizzard of blows. With the El Nino still ramping up, it’s not only the new record temperatures this year that are so worrying, but the big questions “What next?” and “When next?” The answer to the latter seems to be: “Between tomorrow and a week from tomorrow.” I do not even want to imagine the answer to the first question. And to think I had never heard the term “Brown Ocean” until a week ago. Yet it joins several other recent acquisitions, like Rediculously Resilient Ridge, Jet Stream Meandering, Canfield Ocean, The Blob, and Derecho. So I wonder what, and how many, new phrases my climate lexicon will acquire in the next year. I doubt that any of them will be things I’ll want to hear about.

    Reply
  7. entropicman

     /  June 18, 2015

    ” 17 This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.’”

    19 The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.’ Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels[a] of wood and stone.”

    20 Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood.”

    Exodus 17-20

    Reply
  8. dnem

     /  June 18, 2015

    To be clearer, Cryosphere Today shows a one day drop of almost 340,000 km!

    Reply
  9. earthfriendrick

     /  June 18, 2015

    So freaking depressing…😦

    Reply
  10. rustj2015

     /  June 18, 2015

    Might be useful exercise of conscience and consciousness:

    “Praise Song” by Barbara Crooker.

    Praise the light of late November,
    the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
    Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
    though they are clothed in night, they do not
    despair. Praise what little there’s left:
    the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
    shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
    of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
    the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
    that hasn’t cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
    behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
    that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
    Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
    fallen world; it’s all we have, and it’s never enough.

    Reply
  11. Greg

     /  June 18, 2015

    Starting to work through the Pope’s Encyclical. Full of wonderful allegory and not so subtle language. The Pope has gone way beyond Climate Change and encompassed our whole ecological relationship to the Earth and the immorality of our entire economic systems. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of
    filth”, “We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.”, “Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has been irreversibly affected”, “We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them.” , “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon.” “To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues”

    The New York Times Annotated Version:
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/06/18/world/europe/encyclical-laudato-si.html?_r=0

    Reply
    • rustj2015

       /  June 18, 2015

      Without too much insight, this is a commendable statement by my thinking:
      “To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues”
      Just as the immigrant “population”, the prison “population”, the homeless “population”, the poor and sick, children and elderly in these groupings, the wayward and misfits in all nations are subject to approbation and shame, but it is an accusation pursued and given punitive standards by those protecting their possessions and status.

      Reply
  12. JPL

     /  June 18, 2015

    SoCal is having a different sort of red tide right now as well – tuna crabs.

    From http://www.cbsnews.com/news/millions-red-tuna-crabs-invade-california-beaches/

    “The last time tuna crabs appeared like this was 1997 … right before a massive El Niño, a warming of pacific waters that causes changes in the atmosphere.”

    Tumultuous times in Eastern Pacific right now.

    John

    Reply
  13. Robert, not to be rude but here’s a blog post idea. NOAAs just released temps in the context of updated ONI index numbers, indicating El Niño conditions with the huge sea surface update to version 4 aren’t yet a strong as previously thought. This makes the record breaking heat of 2014 and 2015 all the more impressive

    By the way just to reiterate, NOAAs numbers year to date are absolutely crushing with the sea surface update just released an hour ago.

    Reply
    • Now there’s an unpleasant feedback. At least the plankton blooms will take down a bit of the atmospheric carbon. But, man, at some more severe cost to ocean health. Melting glaciers do not like life in the oceans. Fresh water wedge stratification. Now this too.

      Reply
  14. These are cyanobacteria, right? Sometimes called blue-green algae? If so, I’d like to share that it looks like the toxins they produce are found in interesting places like the brains of ALS, Alzheimer and Parkinson patients.
    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/als-lou-gehrigs-disease-fishing-for-answers/

    Reply
    • Another reason to be glad I’m vegan.

      Yeah, it’s the same stuff. For everyone else, Dr. Gregor produces some amazing videos covering the topic of vegetarianism and veganism.

      Reply
  1. Hot Blob #2 Takes Aim at Sea Ice — Abnormally Warm Waters Invading the Arctic Through Bering and Chukchi Seas | robertscribbler
  2. The Hothouse Breeds More Toxic Waters — Lake Eerie ‘Painted Green’ By Enormous Algae Bloom | robertscribbler
  3. Wrecked Pacific Storm Track Now Runs From Equator to Arctic Ocean | robertscribbler
  4. Mass Whale Death in Northeastern Pacific — Hot Blob’s Record Algae Bloom to Blame? | robertscribbler
  5. The Killer Seas Begin — Mass Marine Death off Chile as Ocean Acidification Begins to Take Down Florida’s Reef | robertscribbler
  6. The rise of the Red tide: Fact or fiction? – Extreme Marine

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