West Coast
HUMPBACK WHALES FEED ON ANCHOVY OFF THE COAST OF CALIFORNIA. NEW RESEARCH SHOWS THAT WARM OCEAN TEMPERATURES PUSHED WHALES INTO THE SAME WATER AS CRAB FISHERMEN, AND WHALE ENTANGLEMENTS INCREASED

'Blob' research shows ecological effects that halted fishing and hiked whale entanglements

Unprecedented environmental changes inspire new online tools to better spot them next time

An ecological pileup of unprecedented changes in the ocean off the West Coast beginning about 2014 led to record entanglements of humpback and other whales, putting the region's most valuable commercial fishery at risk, new research shows.

The findings reflect a new management challenge brought about by a changing climate, recovering whale populations, and fishing pressure, according to the new research published in Nature Communications. The situation calls for new measures to alert fishermen to the risk of entanglements and help managers adjust to more rapid and frequent changes in the marine environment.

"We need to put information in the hands of those who can use it, at a time when it can make a difference," said Jarrod Santora, a research scientist at NOAA Fisheries' Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) in Santa Cruz, California, and lead author of the research. "We are seeing changes coming at us in ways they never have before."

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