A strong, cold upwelling in the Pacific Ocean this summer also produced ample food along the California coast, resulting in a bumper crop of herring, sardine and anchovy, said Frank Schwing, director of environmental research at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, a division of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
But there's a gaping hole in that news: Schwing
said the population of krill has mysteriously crashed in the ocean.
This zooplankton, which resembles a tiny shrimp, is a key salmon food.
Several bird species that depend on krill have also crashed, Schwing
said, such as the Cassin's auklet, a seabird that nests on the Farallone Islands.
Also, whales that normally gorge on krill shifted to eating fish.
"Historically there's a strong relationship between abundance of krill and the amount of upwelling that occurs," said Schwing
"We're trying to understand what's going on out there," said Frank Schwing, an oceanographer with NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla (San Diego County).