Elephant seals are the reason why we are now able to learn more about the “Blob” marine heatwave


A massive study using sensors on seals from elephants has provided useful new information on the “Blob”

A vast study conducted with sensors of elephant seals have revealed many valuable information that’s made it easier to know the causes of the “Blob,” a major marine heatwave that struck the Pacific Ocean off the coast of North America.

In recent times the scientific community has been discussing”the “blob,” a unicellular organism that looks like a slime mold but is able to demonstrate the capacity to learn. However, the term “blob” is also a reference to a different, equally remarkable natural phenomenon that scientists have been studying: the heatwave that was observed within the North Pacific Ocean between 2013 and 2015. It caused a dramatic impact for the species that live in these ocean regions.

“In The summer of the year 2015 which was two months in The Blob, just 166 whales came back into The Alaskan Glacier Bay from their winter calves’ calving grounds in Hawaii and Mexico and Mexico, which is a 30 percent decrease from the 2013. The humpback calves who were observed within Glacier Bay that year disappeared afterward and are believed to be dead. The bodies of 17 and 28 humpback finback whales were found at the beaches between Alaska along with British Columbia in Canada,” in a report that was published by Science in January of 2019.

A marine heatwave refers the unusual and long-lasting warming of the waters. “The “Blob” between 2013 and 2015 was the longest and strongest ever recorded. To understand the cause of this unusual climatic change the group composed of American scientists from the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) employed elephant seals to study the oceanographic changes that occur on the seabed in this region.The study was published by The Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans The study has tagged southern elephant seals using ocean sensors carried by animals that measure the depth of water, temperature, and salinity in order to monitor their migrations of the elephant seals across approximately 10,000 km over the Pacific. This species of the underwater seal family was not picked by chance: it’s adept at diving down to depths that is more than 1,000 meters!

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“The elephant seals gather data at different locations as opposed to the existing oceanographic platforms” says lead author Christopher Edwards, a professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz,” in a statement from the university.

More frequent and intense marine heatwaves

The data gathered during the Blob using sensors that elephant seals were identified with found that the unusually warm temperatures extended to 1,000 metres below surface temperatures. The warming of the subsurface continued throughout 2017 long after temperatures on the surface were restored to their normal levels, according to the study.

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According to researchers The researchers say that the temperature anomalies are deep enough that it is highly unlikely they result from mixing with the surface. One theory may be the fact that unusually warm water were transported northwards through the South. In reality modifications at the surface could have temporarily altered the deeper currents in order to draw the waters from the south towards the north.

This climatic event is especially alarming since marine heatwaves are expected to become increasingly frequent as the Earth warms according to the researchers behind the study warn. “Just as with terrestrial heatwaves, we’ve witnessed over the past decade an increase in the intensity and frequency of these heatwaves in the ocean. The more information we gather, the better we’ll be knowing what’s going on and tackling the problems,” concluded first author and researcher Rachel Holser.

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