Tropical fish that normally live is much warmer water are drawn to California’s coasts because of the rising surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, the researchers find.
As they followed the warm currents up from Mexico, several species like hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, largemouth blenny fish, and wahoo fish went up north and were spotted from San Francisco to San Diego. The weather patterns of El Niño are responsible for this migration.
Milton Love, a marine science researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara said that a lot of tropical fish came to southern California.
In October this year, two Puffer fish – of the Tetraodontidae family of marine and estuarine fish – were found in Monterey Bay, California. These types of fish are usually never found farther north than Mexico, according to Save Our Shores, an environmental organization based in Santa Cruz, California.
In 1997 a similar thing happened, when a marlin fish was caught along the Washington state coast, and Shortfin mako sharks – also known as Blue pointers – appeared along the central coast of California and in the Pacific Northwest.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that during an El Niño year, when the temperatures are rising, it is quite common for warm water species to move up north.
Such species have been documented even near Alaska in the past El Niño years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Because of El Niño, biological and physical shift in the ocean lead to changes in fish distribution.
Reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration state that sea surface temperatures are higher in the west during an El Niño year. In Southern California, there has been a + 2 degree temperature change, according to meteorologist Josh Rubenstein.
Phil Hasting, a professor of marine biology and curator of marine vertebrates at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said that over the summer he had seen his first largemouth blenny fish in San Diego. The species is typically spotted in Baja California, Mexico.
Rick Feeney, a fish expert at the Los Angeles County’s National History Museum, reported seeing colourful fish near San Diego, such as the spotfin burfish.
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