Alaskan waters receive uncommon visitors

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Alaskan waters receive uncommon visitors

October 11, 2015 - 22:12

Recently, scientists and fishermen in Alaska have been catching marine species that are not normally found in Alaskan waters.

The ocean sunfish was one of the uncommon visitors.

Some of these animals include the ocean sunfish, thresher sharks, Pacific bonito, albacore tuna and yellowtail, all of which are normally found in warmer waters.

"It's unusual to have these dish caught in near-shore fisheries," said Scott Meyer, a state fishery biologist.

It is likely that warmer ocean temperatures caused by El Nino and a warm-water mass called The Blob are responsible for the appearance of warm-water species in Alaskan waters.

Although not stating this conclusively, Dave Harris from the Alaska Departemnt of Fish and Game said that they were the most likely suspects.

While such novel occurrences are noteworthy for scientists, the increased diversity of fish translates into more competition for high-fat food for salmon.

"The fish [salmon] migrated out of rivers in June, got to the gulf by August, and they will have arrived expecting to find cold water and abundant feed," said senior scientist Bill Peterson, from NOAA fisheries.

He added, "They're going to find nothing to eat, is what we suspect... It won't be pretty."

Indeed, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game had predicted a 58-million ton haul in 2015 of the Southeast pink salmon. However, the actual catch was only 34 milion tons.