: Ocean Conditions
10-15-2004, 07:29 PM
This message presented without comment. I just thought it was interesting given our recent discussions about ocean conditions.
SITKA, Alaska - A large Humboldt squid caught offshore from Sitka is among numerous sightings of a species seen for the first time in waters of the Far North, and the first of the species recovered from British Columbia waters.
The 5-foot Dosidicus gigas, or jumbo flying squid, was shipped this week to California to be kept for research at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
The squid was one of a number caught with a dip net by fisherman Alan Otness and his crew on Sept. 18 as they baited longline gear at night. They brought back some of the creatures for examination by experts.
Eric Hochberg, curator of the Santa Barbara museum, said the species is usually found off Baja, Calif., and farther south.
The farthest north the species has been reported until this year was off the coast of Eugene, Ore., in 1997, said James A. Cosgrove, manager of natural history at the Royal British Columbia Museum. Before that year, the farthest north it was seen was near San Francisco, he said.
Until this summer, there have been no other sightings in the north, Cosgrove said.
"It's unprecedented," he said. "It speaks of a fundamental change in the ocean along the coast."
The museum is keeping a 6 1/2-foot, 44-pound Dosidicus gigas in a formaldehyde tank. The purple-bodied cephalopod with eight sucker-covered arms and two curly tentacles was caught Oct. 2.
Since news of that discovery was made public, Cosgrove has received seven reports of sightings since late July of jumbo squid in northwest waters from Oregon to Alaska. Beside the Sitka catch, the squid were spotted near Yakutat and Kodiak Island.
"We'll try to get a handle on are they moving north with warmer waters, and then do they die out as they head north, or does the cold water constrain their northward movement?" Hochberg said.
10-15-2004, 08:46 PM
Last time I was in Eugene, Or., 25 years ago I didn't see any coast. Matter of fact I would say the coast was about 50 miles away at that time. More has happened to the ocean then I thought in the last 25 years. :whoa:
10-15-2004, 08:59 PM
Seems like I have been around these Humboldt's before. Like on Al's boat baiting up at night drifting around in Chatham Strait with the water full of them, racing around in the light reflecting from the Moonlight, while we were hauling in our Long Lines full of Black Cod! But then I have also observed Great White Sharks and even one Whale Shark in the waters around Sitka.
My wife is a Biologist as are quite a few of my close friends and they all are envious of the things that the fellows working at sea get to see while working on deck.
10-15-2004, 11:33 PM
A good freind of mine who spent the entire summer up in Sitka reported to me that a dead bonito was discovered washed up on the beach. According to him, everyone in Sitka was claiming this was a first time occurence.
10-16-2004, 12:29 AM
I never heard of a Bonito being caught around Sitka before. We used to catch a lot of Pom Frits which we usually kept for our personal stash very tasty indeed. I saw several Albacore taken in a Siene Net in by Halibut Point Rec. Area in the inner Sound. Back before the Pro Bio's recognized the presence of Great White Sharks in the Gulf of Alaska a friend of mine caught one (off Lituya Bay) that was about 20' long it tangled up all his commercial lines and was too big to bring aboard his 44' fishing boat so he cut the head off and had the "Jaws " mounted it was proof enough that the range of GWS was moved up the Coast. Now they are more common but this may perhaps be a reflection of the success of the Marine Mammal Protection Act as GWS feed on mammals mostly. As a matter of fact a 70 year old woman who fishes Halibut with a hand line out of her Boston Whaler has caught several GWS around Biorka Island in the last few years as I recall they were 12' to 14'. There are a lot of things swimming around Sitka Sound and now with a lot more people out looking around more is being reported every year.
10-16-2004, 01:28 AM
I heard the Humboldt Squid report the other night on NPR. Said several had been caught this year off the BC coast too.
A more exciting recent story was that of the white shark that stole a halibut off one of the dude's line on a charter boat in Yakutat Bay this summer. Seems the shark wanted more and came up and aggressively circled the boat a couple of times before taking a bite from the swim step!! :eek:
I've also wondered about the sea lion populations and white sharks. I once saw a Discovery Channel show about white sharks feeding who fed on seals at an island rookery off the South African Coast. They had footage of a 16-17' shark taking a swimming seal. It was amazing! This fish came completely out of the water and took the seal on its way down. The speed and violence of the take were truly awesome.
A new El Nino is definitely on the rise. While guiding at Langara Island (the extreme northwest tip of the Queen Charlottes) the signs were there. Chiefly that the chinook were hanging off the west side in 300+ feet of water, in normal years they are in on the points along shore.
During the last big El Nino we saw all kinds of weird warm water species. Portuguese Men of War, Giant Sunfish, Blue Sharks - lots of blue sharks - as well as various and sundry things we didn't recognize. As for Great Whites, I recall looking at a map, a number of years ago that indicated the natural range of the GWS - it was the north tip of the Charlottes. So it would not be as stretch to see them further north with an expansion of the warm water regime.
One final observation. During the last big El Nino event steelhead smolt to adult survival rates were over 20% ( this past year it was 1/4 of 1%). Maybe there will be a silver lining to this new El Nino? My fingers are crossed... toes too.
10-16-2004, 01:49 PM
I have a clear vision of the reaction of the folks on that Chater Boat at Yakutat when the GWS took aim on there small craft.
Kush the book was accurate the GWS do range as far as the North End of the Charlottes, its just that for a long time they have ranged further, but it was not observed by the "Annoited"until recently. Kind of like Alan Otness having a dip net handy to send a sample of a not all that uncommon sighting of a Humboldt squid to a prestigious California Institute to have it ID'd. I saw several in the Cold Storage that were caught on the Rocket II off of Yakutat 10 or 12 years ago. They were checked by several local Bio's but I guess they forgot to tell the press or the publications of Journals.
Pescaphile, leaping GWS chasing prey are awesome on film and in person maybe more so, but I think I already told you that story!!!
GWS are confortable in cooler waters. They are found in water temps down to 45 degrees F. If you look at all the places they are famously aboundent like S. Africa's South Atlantic coast, S Austrailia, Northern California and Oregon you will see water temps year round are between 45 and 60 degrees. Much of South East Alaska has water temps close to the magic numbers at least 1/2 the year.
If I could come back as any creature it would be a GWS. I would swim up local rivers looking for indicator steelhead fishermen to dine on. Wouldn't that be a beautiful site!
10-18-2004, 01:14 PM
Kush, it is really interesting how smolt-to-adult steelhead returns have varied over the past 25 years or so. The Keough River has one of the best records I'm aware of, and as you said return rates were actually really high during the last major El Nino (1997-98) -- according to a chart I got from Bob Hooten those returns were about 15%. And during the other "El Nino of the century", back in 1982-83, the Keough River survival rate was also ~15%. On the other hand, from 1991-95 we experienced a sequence of El Nino's in the tropics, and persistently warm ocean temperatures in the Northeast Pacific, and survival rates were consistently ~3%. The controls on steelhead marine survival rates are apparently a lot more complicated than just El Nino and/or ocean temperatures.
This year the tropical El Nino is actually quite weak, barely above the threshold that's used to say "yes, this is an El Nino". But in the North Pacific, especially the Northeast Pacific, the ocean warmed substantially this summer and has remained really warm to now.
NOAA maintains a "west coast El Nino watch" web-page with updated temperatrure maps and discussion about Northeast Pacific ocean conditions at:
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this warm-up will bring better days for Puget Sound/Georgia Basin steelhead, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.
10-24-2004, 10:21 PM
With respect to the GWS - we used to have frequent sightings on the west coast of South Africa, where the current comes up from the Antartic with bottom temperatures as low as 4 degrees celsius - they do tolerate fairly cold water if there is food to be found. In addition they are able to maintain a core temperature several degrees warmer than the surounding water.
10-25-2004, 02:28 AM
Very good observation but you alredy knew that. I am constantly amazed by the simple little things that are real that the majorityof the folks who are supposed to be looking around for signs of life fail to "sea".