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While talking with Yosty, Sonia mentioned a lot of important processes that happened in the Gulf during these strange years. With warmer than average water offshore and fewer nutrients present in the water, species of phytoplankton not commonly seen in the Gulf began to bloom. These species of phytoplankton are more likely to produce harmful toxins, which, when consumed by zooplankton, could impact the entire food chain of the Gulf of Alaska.

Sonia also pointed out that she expected the abnormally warm water to have an impact on seabirds, and did it ever! The changing oceanic conditions in the Gulf played a key role in the development of the bloom of potentially toxic algae. Picking up these clues, Yosty digs even deeper into exactly how these oceanic conditions impacted the Gulf by talking to Seth Danielson, an Oceanographer with Gulf Watch Alaska.

Watch the video below to see what Seth observed in the currents of the Gulf of Alaska.

VIDEO: Seth and Currents

Seth Danielson describes his observations of currents in the Gulf of Alaska. (4:25)

Video Transcript

Below are two visuals of what Seth, and the other Gulf Watch Alaska Scientists, observed happening to the currents and organisms in the Gulf of Alaska. The first of two animations depicts what a normal calendar year looks like in the Gulf, while the second portrays how the Gulf was impacted by 'The Blob.'

VIDEO: Normal Years

Animation of oceanographic conditions in "normal years." (4:28)

Video Transcript

Normal cooling and warming seasons were severely impacted by the unusual warming event first detected at the end of 2013. Watch the next set of animations below to observe the oceanographic changes and the impact on the entire ecosystem of the Gulf of Alaska during this warming event.

VIDEO: Anomaly "Blob" Years

Animation of oceanographic conditions in "Blob" years. (2:10)

Video Transcript

The impacts of this unusually warm ‘blob’ of water were not limited to the Gulf of Alaska. The blob was first seen along the coasts of California and Oregon, and the entire Northeast Pacific has been subject to its impacts. The Gulf Watch Alaska team has been able to piece together the mystery of these unusual events using the power of systems thinking.





Who is watching the Blob?

Meet Kathy
Meet Sonia
Meet Seth

Study area map

  Abundance (n): a large quantity of something, more than required
  Anomaly (n): different from what is normal or expected
  Density (n): the number of inhabitants per unit of area
  Downwelling/Upwelling (n): the downward (or upward) movement of fluid, especially in the sea
  El Niño (n): large climate disturbances in the tropical Pacific Ocean that occur every 3-7 years
  Inorganic (adj): not made of living matter
  Near-surface (n): layer of water that lies just beneath the surface
  Salinity (n): the saltiness of a body of water
  Standard deviation (n): a measure of how spread out (or dispersed) a set of numbers are
  Stratification (n): arrangement of something into different layers
  Sub-surface (n): layer of water below the surface
  Thermocline (n): transition layer between two water layers of different temperatures