In 2013 we enjoyed an unprecedented stretch of warm sunny days during mid-summer in Southeast Alaska. Fishing in t-shirts at 8 AM is not common on the North Pacific, but it was in 2013. We also had a spectacular summer of fishing. The initial meteorological description was the “ridiculously resilient ridge” (RRR), a large blocking high pressure ridge that kept the normal flow of wet, cool weather at bay.
This long period of sun and warmth came with a price apparently. It’s called “The Blob”, a large patch of warm water in the North Pacific that was first identified in the fall of 2013 and continued until 2016. The normal heat loss from the ocean to the atmosphere did not take place due to the warm, calm weather. The RRR also decreased the normal circulation in the ocean allowing the large mass of warm water to form and remain. This dome of warm water that began in the Gulf of Alaska eventually spread down the coast and capped the upwelling of nutrient rich deep ocean water. The result was a significant drop in what’s called ocean productivity. Without the deep-water nutrients hitting the surface and blooming in the sunlight, the phytoplankton production went way down, followed by the zooplankton. Without these primary sources of food fish, birds, and mammals found slim pickings on the ocean.
It’s beginning to look like The Blob and, perhaps, other marine anomalies, have created some significantly weak year classes of fish. There is a coastwide decline in production of king salmon, halibut, and Pacific cod which explains the cautionary approach fish managers are taking in regulations on these fish.
To learn more:
Or just Google “the north pacific blob”
Articles about the blob always speak to king salmon, halibut and cod. What about coho. Are they likewise affected? Thanks
Hi Steve, great question. The coho runs that we’ve seen before, during, and after the blob have ranged from good to excellent. Coho have different migratory patterns and timing that chinook and, as least what we’ve seen and heard so far, haven’t been effected.
Thank you for the reply