Scientists probe Bering Sea warming pattern

When the Bering Sea warms, there are telltale signs. One is a bloom of phytoplankton that turns the water’s normally gray surface to a lovely turquoise.

“It does feel like you’re in the Caribbean,” said Janet Duffy-Anderson, a research biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Center.

Though it is pretty, that bloom means ugly conditions for much of the sea life in the Bering Sea, the source of about half of the commercially harvested seafood in the United States.

The phytoplankton creating the turquoise bloom is coccolithophoe, a tiny marine plant that thrives in warm, nutrient-poor conditions, “so they are a harbinger of problems when they are in the Bering Sea,” Duffy-Anderson said.

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Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is the online editor for National Fisherman.

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