Goodbye 2015! You were a strange year for the North Pacific: “the blob” stuck around, elevated numbers of Common Murres washed-in throughout the COASST range (and continue to in Alaska, see below), harmful algal blooms, and lets not forget the Cassin’s Auklet wreck last winter. What does it all mean? COASST is working with partners up and down the coast to try to figure it out. We’re still assembling data from December, and January is in-progress, but here’s a look at the latest story that’s unfolding:
COASST data show that the annual murre post-breeding mortality signal (August-September) was observed in Alaska and the lower 48 in 2015, and was particularly accentuated along the outer coast of Washington and the northern coast of Oregon.
But in the Gulf of Alaska…
Elevated murre mortality levels occurred both before and after the breeding season, creating a continuous signal stretching from May through to present (December).
Maximum COASST beach counts (red circles) are significantly higher than the 2015 monthly averages (yellow circles), and maximum anecdotal reported counts are 1-2 orders of magnitude above that.
Many thanks to our intrepid, dedicated participants who are braving long days on rugged beaches to document the extent and magnitude of this mortality event!