Category Archives: InFORMing Research

Hypothesis Confirmed: Sea Lion Mass Deaths Caused by Malnutrition

by Alastair Bland
August 2, 2017
Originally published by Hakai Magazine

Meteorologists had never seen anything quite like it—a mass of abnormally warm surface water that overwhelmed much of the northeastern Pacific Ocean for three years starting in late 2013. They called it the Blob.

Within months, thousands of starving sea lion pups began washing ashore along the west coast of the United States. Continue reading Hypothesis Confirmed: Sea Lion Mass Deaths Caused by Malnutrition

Sea cave preserves 5,000-year snapshot of tsunamis

Rutgers University
July 19, 2017
Originally published by EurekAlert!

An international team of scientists digging in a sea cave in Indonesia has discovered the world’s most pristine record of tsunamis, a 5,000-year-old sedimentary snapshot that reveals for the first time how little is known about when earthquakes trigger massive waves. Continue reading Sea cave preserves 5,000-year snapshot of tsunamis

The wasting of the stars: A look into the largest ocean epidemic in recorded history

By Peter Arcuni
July 18, 2017
Originally published in Peninsula Press
Audio report

In June 2013, Steve Fradkin hiked the rugged coast of Washington State’s Olympic National Park to count the stars. In the summertime, the lowest tides expose the slippery rocks of the intertidal zone from daybreak until noon. Perfect conditions for spotting Pisaster ochraceus, the five-armed purple, orange and red sea stars common to Pacific waters along the western edge of the United States. Continue reading The wasting of the stars: A look into the largest ocean epidemic in recorded history

CFCs: Noxious for ozone, but luminescent for ocean currents

Scientists recently reported that the ozone hole over Antarctica is showing signs of healing. This wonderful news comes almost 20 years after the Montreal Protocol banned the production and use of clorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in 1987. The decline means that CFCs are finally dropping in concentration in the atmosphere and are either breaking down high in the stratosphere or going into the ocean. Biologically inert, the CFCs in the ocean don’t harm any marine life, but they have proven very useful for oceanographers trying to understand circulation in the deep ocean.  Continue reading CFCs: Noxious for ozone, but luminescent for ocean currents

The Boy who Lingers: El Nino and the Salish Sea

We all know that boy who just keeps pestering and won’t quite go away, right? Well the winter of 2015-2016 saw one of the largest El Niños on record hit the Equatorial Pacific….and it just won’t go away. While the weatherpersons on the news were quick to make connections between atmospheric patterns and El Niño, I didn’t see any mentions about the effects it would have on our coastal waters. After all, El Niño is an oceanic phenomenon so it would make sense that there would be a local marine effect, right? It turns out that while El Niño is on its way out and predictions of La Niña are on the rise in equatorial waters, the Salish Sea is just starting to feel the effects of the monster that was.   Continue reading The Boy who Lingers: El Nino and the Salish Sea