Study: Dead sea creatures covered 98% of seafloor last year about 150 miles off California coast; Unprecedented, had been below 1% prior to event — ‘Major’ changes began in spring 2011
National Geographic, Nov. 22, 2013: […] “In the 24 years of this study, the past 2 years have been the biggest amounts of this detritus by far,” said study leader Christine Huffard, a marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California. […] In March 2012, less than one percent of the seafloor beneath Station M [located 145 miles west of the coast of California between Santa Barbara and Monterey] was covered in dead sea salps. By July 1, more than 98 percent of it was covered in the decomposing organisms, according to the study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. […] Although climate change is a leading contender for explaining the major increases in 2011 and 2012, Huffard says that these spikes could be part of a longer-term trend that scientists haven’t yet observed. She hopes to continue gathering data from Station M to try and figure it out.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nov. 11, 2013 (emphasis added): […] Two major peaks in POC [particulate organic carbon] flux occurred over the last 18 mo of the time series […] The peak POC flux in spring/summer 2011 was the highest recorded over the 24-y time series (Fig. 1D) […] The daily presence of detrital aggregates on the sea floor did not exceed 15% coverage over the period from 1990 to 2007. The highest sea-floor coverage by detrital aggregates measured throughout the 24-y time series occurred between March and August 2012, when salp detritus ranged from <1% cover in early March to a high of 98% cover on 1 July (Fig. 1E). Read Article