02 February 2015
When large population changes occur, especially increases among a certain species along our coasts, scientists want to know why. Recently, they have found an abundance of sea-slugs along the northern California coastline, called the Hopkin’s Rose nudibranch. While the Hopkin’s Rose nudibranches (inch-long pink sea slugs) are native to the central and southern California coastlines, they are rarely found up north. The warmer oceanic temperatures are attracting these species to the northern areas of California. Scientists are studying these slugs, along with a few other types of species to find out more about this sudden shift. Is another El Nino on its way?
Nudibranchs in large quantities are showing up along Humboldt County to San Louis Obispo, a foreigner to these northern coasts. Scientists are happy to see such a rare nudibranch blooming in our oceans, but at the same time are consciously afraid for how this type of change is going to affect the marine environment. Back in 2011, a scientist by the name of Gosliner studied the nudibranch and when they bloomed, “…The report predicts a range-shift in sea slug populations when warm temperatures, northward ocean currents, and weak upwelling overlap.” With the water getting warmer, the marine life has to try to adapt to it quickly, and sometimes they are unable to do so, leading to extinction of some species over time, as well as less food for birds that eat from the sea. So with this growth of nudibranch’s currently along our coasts, researchers are tracking and getting as much information as possible to see how much the marine environment is being affected by the warmer temperatures. Though it’s too soon to say, some think that another El Nino could be on its way, and if that’s the case, the northern coasts will be getting visits from species that aren’t normally found there.
Warm waters change everything, such a domino effect. One thing after another. This article was short, but a lot of different details to help me learn about why finding