Sea Life Erupts Along California Coast

Anchovies fuel late season frenzy

News Outside Online

A humpback whale off the coast of Monterey, California.     Photo: ElliotHurwitt/Thinkstock

Monterey, California and neighboring coastal areas have witnessed a massive increase of sea life in recent months. Scientists say it all began with a late season burst of anchovies that attracted sea lions and just about everything above them on the food chain, according to The New York Times. Residents of Monterey were treated to some 200 humpback whales and a pod of nearly 20 orcas, just in the past few weekends.

Humpback whales, sea lions, and pelicans are all very common throughout the Monterey coast during the summer months, but rarely have the numbers remained so high into the winter. The culprit? Anchovies, and lots of them. The uncharacteristic late bloom has produced pods so large they appear on depth sounders. The Santa Cruz harbor even experienced an enormous die off last month because the overabundance of anchovies depleted all of the harbor's oxygen, reports The Times.

Monterey's tourism numbers have seen a noticeable bump with people flocking onto whale watching boats. More than 60 whales were spotted on a recent trip where visitors are usually lucky to see one or two. 

Scientists aren't completely sure what's causing the anchovy explosion, but some popular theories include a mild fall, strong upwelling of cold water, and the cycling of water temperatures in the bay, according to reports from The Times.  

Video: More than 2,000 sea lions and 25 humpback whales in a feeding frenzy.


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