The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: alaska

The Blob: How A Long, Strange Influx of Warm Water is Changing West Coast Ecosystems

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Recreational fishing has had a gangbuster season in San Diego, thanks to the presence of tropical fish not normally found in those waters, like the bluefin tuna shown here. Photo by Point Loma Sportfishing.

Over the last few years, the waters off the West coast have been warming to about 4 to 5 degrees fahrenheit above average. This might seem like a small change, but it can cause major changes in the coastal ecosystems. The warm water, which scientists have nicknamed “the Blob,” formed two years ago near Alaska and has spread down the West Coast and is especially evident in Southern California. With the warmer waters, tiger sharks, hammerheads and even tropical sea snakes have moved northward.

the blob

The map of the West coast “Blob’ shows how much above (red) or below (blue) water temperatures were in 2015 compared to the long-term average from 2003 to 2012. Photo by Nasa. 

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Woman Thanks Bear for Not Eating Her Kayak, Pepper Sprays Bear, Bear Has Change of Heart.

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This is what happens, lady. This is what happens when you spray a bear in the face. Screenshot from Mary Maley’s YouTube video.

In this woman’s defense, this bear probably was a little too close for comfort, but then, we can’t blame the bear either, can we?

Mary Maley, who was on a solo kayak trip from Ketchikan to Petersburg, Alaska, was posted up outside of a US Forest Service cabin in Berg Bay, Wrangell District, and had just carried her tent, food and gear into the cabin before a 4 mile hike. She heard something outside while having her lunch, and came out to find this:

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Screenshot from Mary Maley’s YouTube video.

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Watch and Listen to Orcas in Deep Conversation off Alaska


Photo: Tim Melling/Flickr.

Most of us have heard the songs of the whales, whether it’s been in museums, nature documentaries, and some of us have even played their aural works of art at our bedsides as we drift off to slumber at night.

The video below, showing a pod of whales off Ketchikan, Alaska, was filmed on just an iPhone–and vertically, unfortunately–but is uniquely backed by a soundscape of the whales’ subsurface conversations, thanks to a “hydrophone”, or underwater microphone, which is connected to a speaker amplifier.

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Watch The USCG Perform a Daring Rescue Just Moments Before an Alaskan Fishing Vessel Sinks Beneath the Waves

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Screenshot from gCaptain‘s video.

A life spent working at sea has never been easy, but what would it be like without the coast guards of the world?

On Wednesday, June 10th, the USCG received a distress call from the fishing vessel Kupreanof from the Gulf of Alaska; she was listing heavily and about to sink.

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As Non-Native King Crabs Invade Northern Europe, Recreational Divers Take Matters into Their Own Hands


Thomas Richardsen Hansen holds up an invasive red king crab which he found beneath the ice in Berlevåg, Finnmark, Norway. King crab pincers are strong enough to bend titanium and could easily snip off a thumb. Photo: Stig Brondbo

The red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) is only native to the Bering Sea, the Japan Sea and the northern Pacific waters between them, but in 1961, a group of Soviet scientists brought 7 specimens–yes, just SEVEN–to the Barents Sea in an attempt to stimulate the Soviet fishery. Each mating season, a female may give birth to some 10,000 surviving offspring. By the early 2000s, the population had grown so much that it could sustain a commercially viable fishery, and today there are an estimated 20 million king crab in this small pocket of Northern European ocean, and there’s nothing to stop them from reaching Southern Europe.


Endemic to nearby waters (see in yellow above), red king crabs are all too fit for the waters of Northern Europe (red). Graphic via GRID

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A Visit to Alaska’s Volcanic Islands and a ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’


Augustine Volcano Viewed from the M/V Maritime Maid. Photo courtesy Cyrus Read and  AVO


Pavlof volcano steaming, as viewed from Nelson Lagoon. December 5, 2014. Photo courtesy of Merle Brandell and AVO

When one hears the term ‘signs of significant unrest’ we typically think of geo-political uprisings or other demonstrations against social injustice. But in Alaska, the term is used to describe the activity (or inactivity) of over 130 volcanoes and volcanic fields. Approximately 50 of these have been active within historical time (since about 1760, for Alaska) and make up more than three-quarters of United States volcanoes that have erupted in the last two hundred years.

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This Is Real Life (and Mutiny) Aboard a Rust-Encrusted, Rat-Infested Derelict “Tramper” Ship in Alaska

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Photo: USCG by U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro

The Bangui Perkasa, a “tramper” ship intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard off Alaska. Oftentimes these ships are Korean-, Japanese-, and Russian-flagged vessels, but in reality they don’t belong to any one nation.

Each year in Western Alaska, a number of stateless, putrid, rat-infested ships and their lawless, tyrannical captains approach the fishing grounds for mackerel and whatever else they can scrounge up from the sea. The crew that board these vessels are often a mixed bag of citizens of the Third World, tragically worse for wear and desperate to find any condition other than their own, hoping for even a chance at earning enough wages to feed their families. Some go along with an idea of what horrible, inhumane torment awaits them, and others do so with equal desperation, but utter cluelessness. What is someone to expect when leaping head first into the annals of human depravity? It cannot be imagined. Naturally, tensions grow tight aboard these ships, which are commonly known as “trampers.” The following is a recounting of a mutiny aboard one such ship, the Auba Maru, as told by Capt. Willy Cork (ed’s note: he was not captain of this vessel, in fact, far from it), passed along by Capt. Pete Garay (as best as he can recall):

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Huge Walrus Haul-Out Signals Latest ‘Canary in the Coalmine’ for Climate Change in the Arctic


Photo: Corey Accardo/AP

Near Port Lay Alaska, over 35,000 Pacific walruses have hauled out onto dry land because they are unable to find sea ice due to global warming. This haul out is the largest ever recorded by scientists working with the Aerial Surveys of Arctic Marine Mammals (ASAMM), a Federal, multi-agency program.

The large land-based haul-outs were first observed in 2007 and numbers have continued to rise since on both the U.S. and Russian sides of the Chukchi Sea.

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