Scientists see hopeful signs of sea life

August 26, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Scientists say there is hopeful environmental news off California's coast this summer. Ocean waters are teeming with life, from sea birds and whales to fish and microscopic organisms, that appeared to be in short supply during the last three years. The rebound appears to stem from a colder current flowing from Canada to Mexico and strong winds that have churned colder water up from the Pacific Ocean's depths.

UC Santa Cruz biologist Baldo Marinovic says sea surface temperatures are the coldest they have been since the late 1980s. The cooling trend has led to a resurgence of krill, the microscopic creatures that are a major food source for whales, birds and many species of seals, and copepods, tiny crustaceans that supplement the diets of marine mammals.

Marinovic and other researchers say it is too soon to know whether the seasonal abundance is a sign of improving climate conditions or a one-year anomaly.