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Massive die off of #Krill and #mussels in #Alaska, #USA

Dead mussels near Teller June 19, 2019. . (Photo by Lucy Oquilluk)

Dead mussels near Teller June 19, 2019. . (Photo by Lucy Oquilluk)

Residents from two Northwest Alaska villages say they found large numbers of dead mussels and krill washed up along shores in June, contributing to fears in the region that record warm waters may be causing a wide range of ecosystem changes, including unusual wildlife deaths.

The discoveries come amid profound changes in the ocean environment in Alaska linked to climate change, including a dramatic early ice melt, warmer water temperatures and record high air temperatures. There has been a string of unusual mortality events this season including deaths of seabirds and seals. Scientists are working to pinpoint what killed the animals and whether the deaths are related.

Mike Brubaker, director of the Center for Climate and Health at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, oversees a network of local environmental observers in Alaska and elsewhere. He wrote in late June that “an ecosystem scale event appears to be playing out” off Alaska’s coasts, related to unusual ocean conditions.

“We do not know if these events are connected or what the cause or causes are. There are a number of possibilities,” wrote Brubaker, an environmental health professional.

The northern Bering Sea in May and June has never been warmer than this year, according to Rick Thoman, a climatologist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Following years of low sea ice, those and other waters near the Seward Peninsula late last month were 6 to 12 degrees above normal.

Courtesy of adn.com

https://tinyurl.com/yxwbd445

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