When Joe Orsi goes trawling, he doesn’t go trawling for 900-pound ocean sunfish. Orsi’s title is biologist, his employer the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Research Center, his cause researching said state’s fisheries. His typical prey, therefore, are juvenile Alaskan salmon. Sunfish are tropical—occasionally temperate—creatures, and do not belong about 40 miles offshore of a place called Icy Point. But that’s what Orsi’s nets brought up in June.
“What’s crazy is, like a day before, a guy asked me what was the strangest thing I’d brought up in a trawl,” says Orsi. Whatever he answered then—sea otter, Dall’s porpoise, maybe a blue shark—is certainly obsolete now.
Strange things are aswim along the Pacific coast. Starving sea lion pups, jellyfish swarms, toxic algae blooms. All because of an enormous mass of warm water stretching from California to Alaska that scientists have dubbed “the Blob.” And the Blob is about to get joined by more warm water from the gargantuan El Niño—with its own scientific nickname, “Godzilla“—forming in the equatorial east Pacific.
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