Hotter Ocean Temperatures
Bowen snorkelers now see juvenile anchovy in the summer in Kwilákm, indicating that anchovy have begun breeding here as year-round residents. The anchovy, in turn, have become an important food for humpback whales, sea lions, and seals (all three are doing very well), and seabirds. Interestingly, the number of California sea lions wintering in BC has also increased. Are the sea lions following the anchovy north? More on Anchovy and other forage fish.
Warmer river and ocean temperatures have many negative impacts on cool-water species like the chum salmon raised in the Terminal Creek Fish Hatchery, released into the Lagoon, and living in Kwilákm as juvenile fish. Warmer waters bring more California sea lions to BC waters which, along with a booming seal population, means salmon are facing more predators. The warming sea also means fewer zooplankton (tiny animals drifting in the oceans) that salmon rely on for food. Scientists have calculated it takes roughly one ton of zooplankton to produce a single 5 kg salmon under ideal conditions. High temperatures in the river and creeks where salmon spawn, including in Terminal Creek, cause stress in fish. Salmon can die before reaching spawning grounds. More about Terminal Creek salmon.
As the world’s oceans are warming, some species are stressed or dying out. Others are not feeling the heat at all. Jellyfish, for instance, are thriving in the deoxygenated, warm water resulting from the climate crisis; their numbers are increasing.