Saturday, March 03, 2007

Stellar's Sea Lions Developing Taste for Sturgeon

PATRICK O'NEILL of The Oregonian
"Since about October, wildlife workers have seen sea lions eat 347 white sturgeon near the [Bonneville] dam. That compares with 264 killed the previous season.

All but one this season was eaten by Steller sea lions, which are much larger than their California sea lion cousins. California sea lions migrate up the river later in the spring. Sea lions' appetite for salmon is well-known. In recent years, more and more of them have gathered below Bonneville Dam to intercept salmon on their way upstream to spawning grounds.

Corrarino [of Oregon DFW] says the salmon run is just beginning. But Steller sea lions appear at the dam earlier and earlier each year, drawn by the new menu item -- sturgeon.
'Steller sea lions are being very opportunistic,' he says.
A five- to 10-mile stretch of the Columbia downstream from Bonneville Dam is one of the world's most prolific spawning grounds for white sturgeon, says Corrarino. "

Columbia Basin Mint Plantings Being Yanked in Favor of Ethanol Production?

More when I know more.

Iron in Northwest rivers fuels phytoplankton, fish populations

Press Release -- OSU
"CORVALLIS, Ore. -- A new study suggests that the iron-rich winter runoff from Pacific Northwest streams and rivers, combined with the wide continental shelf, form a potent mechanism for fertilizing the nearshore Pacific Ocean, leading to robust phytoplankton production and fisheries.

The study, by three Oregon State University oceanographers, was just published by the American Geophysical Union in its journal, Geophysical Research Letters.

West coast scientists have observed that ocean chlorophyll levels, phytoplankton production and fish populations generally increase in the Pacific Ocean the farther north you go (from southern California to northern Washington). No one has a definitive explanation for the increase, the OSU scientists say, though some researchers have suspected river runoff may play a role. That theory has generally been discounted, they added, because river flows are low in the summer when phytoplankton blooms occur.

In their study, however, the OSU scientists found that Northwest rivers churn out huge amounts of iron in the winter and deposit it on the continental shelf, where it sits until the spring and summer winds begin the ocean upwelling process. The authors studied the relationships between phytoplankton, river runoff and shelf width all along the West Coast."