Sunday, January 10, 2010

Where did SF Bay's sea lions go?

Environmental Writer Jeff Barnard, Ap Environmental Writer
– Fri Jan 8, 11:04 pm ET

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Hundreds of sea lions that abruptly blew out of San Francisco Bay's Pier 39 last Thanksgiving have apparently found a new home at another tourist attraction — 500 miles north on the Oregon coast.
Thousands of California sea lions started showing up in December at Sea Lion Caves, a popular tourist draw because of the Stellar sea lions living in the caves.
The California sea lions appear to have made the trip because of an abundance of anchovies at the Oregon site, 11 miles north of the town of Florence.
Scientists say there is no way to say how many of the newcomers came from Pier 39, where the numbers fell from a peak of 1,701 in October to just 20 by the end of November. But it is likely some did, since they easily swim 100 miles a day searching for food between Mexico and Alaska.
Some of the California newcomers came into the cave, but most seem to prefer a nearby rocky beach.

Not just a tale of marine mammals this. It is an example of the Geographic concept of catastrophic shift. When I first started studying Geography gradualism was the thing. It was the basic model of geology and biological evolution and even social science. By the 1970's however things were being shaken up. It was discovered that the last ice sheet that covered all of Europe did so in less than a single century. It was revealed that the canyon that was the Columbia River Gorge had been carved out in days not eons, and that it had happened at least 12 times. Evidence of flash frozen animals in the tundras of Siberia and Alaska with grass still in their mouths and stomachs suggest a sudden event.

Some day, I mean one single day, in Europe the dry cold air will come and bring a "Snow Blitz" that will not go away for thousands of years. All it takes is the Gulf Stream to shift, say from too much fresh water disrupting the flow of currents in the North Atlantic. Fresh water from the glacial melt on Greenland brought on by global warming.

Catastrophic shift, a tipping point is past and it all changes and cascades into the future.

Will the Sea Lions return, or should we move with them?

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