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  1. #1
    Senior Member Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Default North pacific suddenly swamped by a strange and rare animal.

    This comes across like the opening act of a sci-fi thriller.

    Bizarre, Glowing Sea Creatures Bloom in the Pacific

    After three years of unprecedented warm water along the U.S. West Coast, sea temperatures in 2017 had finally cooled. Fat shrimplike krill had returned and again were providing rich meals for salmon. Sea lions and other marine mammals were no longer washing ashore shriveled and starving. Things appeared to be getting back to normal.

    Then they showed up.

    Beginning this spring, millions of bizarre primitive-seeming jellyfish-like bioluminescent sea creatures—some more than two feet long—started gumming up research nets, glomming onto fishing hooks, and cascading onto beaches along the West Coast. These stubbly gelatinous animals called pyrosomes (each is technically a colony of other multi-celled animals called zooids) are cone-shaped tunicates normally found in the tropics, but they are spotted once in a while as far north as British Columbia. But this spring they started swarming the eastern Pacific in masses never before recorded, stretching from Oregon to the Gulf of Alaska.

    "It's really weird," says Jennifer Fisher, a faculty research assistant with Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center. "I've never seen anything like it."

    Neither has Rick Brodeur, a research biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Oregon. And he's been studying jellies and other gelatinous creatures in the Pacific Northwest for 30 years.

    "It's just unbelievable how many of them there are," Brodeur says.

    ...

    Normally pyrosomes are so rare that a Canadian scientist who puts together an annual "state of the ocean" report had never even heard of them. West Coast scientists could find scant information about them in the scientific literature. It's also not clear whether there will be significant ecological implications, though most scientists suspect there would have to be. It's just impossible to predict what those effects might be.

    ...

    "When fishermen were trolling for chinook in midwater, they were dragging these lines with 50 hooks and they were coming up with these things on basically every hook," says Leon Shaul, with Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "It got to the point where they couldn't effectively fish."

    ...

    It's not clear what the creatures have been eating, only that it must be a ton.

    "These guys probably consume a lot of food—they tend to eat very fine particles—but they have to consume a lot to reach those densities," Brodeur says.

    No one is really sure what eats them, either. Scientists catching sablefish, also called black cod, saw a few fish regurgitate pyrosomes. Other researchers have found a few small ones in the belly of chinook. But were the fish feeding, or simply unable to avoid them?

    Already, some scientists fear there are so many in the water that when the animals finally die their decomposing bodies may suck vast amounts of oxygen from coastal seas, posing risks to other marine life.

    "For something that's never really been here before, the densities are just mind-boggling," says Laurie Weitkamp, another biologist with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. "We're just scratching our heads."
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  2. #2

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    Cool

  3. #3
    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    This comes across like the opening act of a sci-fi thriller.

    Bizarre, Glowing Sea Creatures Bloom in the Pacific
    Wild. Except as soon as the story mentioned sablefish, I immediately thought of how good it is on a bagel.
    I like to rock n' roll all night and *part* of every day. I usually have errands... I can only rock from like 1-3.

  4. #4
    SpaceCadetGoldStarBrigade Population: 1's Avatar
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    I was looking them up and it appears there are a decent variety of them. Rather like glowing snakelike critters. It must be an eerie sight at night seeing millions of those things just beneath the water. Good thing humans aren't on the menu.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Cat Brainz's Avatar
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    This is really interesting. We have no idea of the diversity of life that exists in our oceans so it doesnt shock me that they found something like this. The oceans have always been a source of mystery for me and I do wonder what oceans on alien planets would look like.

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