sealion nursery

Starving Sea Lions Perish By Tens of Thousands In California’s Dying Ocean

California’s Dying Ocean Becoming A Lifeless Blue Desert As Sea Lions, Seabirds, and Sardines Starve To Death In Greatest Numbers Ever Recorded

While many argue and debate the root cause of the collapse of our ocean pastures we work to replenish and restore those vital ocean pastures we’ve been neglecting for so long.

The means to becoming good shepherds of our ocean pastures is at hand, inexpensive, and immediately effective and will bring the oceans back to their former state of health and abundance if we act in time.

Starved sea birds on beaches all up and down the Pacific Coast

Starved sea birds on beaches all up and down the Pacific Coast give silent testimony to dying ocean pasures no longer able to sustain a vast array of marine life.

The crisis of the beautiful Pacific Ocean off the coast of California is becoming ever more dire by the day. A few months ago over the Christmas holiday season seabirds were reported to be dying from Mexico to Alaska by the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands are feared lost. This week reports of sea lions by the thousands are washing up on the beaches of California’s dying ocean.

In January and February alone, 1,450 malnourished or dying sea lion pups have washed up on shore – compare this with just 68 in a typical year. Last year was reported to be a year of “extraordinary sea lion mortality” when the numbers of stranded sea lions reached about 1200. While the reports from the beaches are scary only a tiny fraction of the dead and dying sea lions are actually washing up on the shore, vastly larger numbers, surely tens of thousands are lost at sea.

Like Sardines in a Can October 12, 2002

Sardines once sustained a massive California fishing industry. Today they are all but gone. Click to read more of the history of the rise and fall of California’s Cannery Row

Huge numbers of sea lions starving leads us to look to the food they eat, small fish especially sardines that feed on ocean plankton that are fast disappearing from California’s dying ocean pastures. This past week federal fisheries managers put in place a full stop on fishing for sardines whose numbers have collapsed at an alarming rate.

Ten years ago there were more than a million tonnes of sardines on California’s ocean pastures, today just 15% remain – 150,000 tonnes . It’s just as bad or worse for the anchovies off the west coast of South America, where more than 30% of that vital forage fish have disappeared from ocean pastures there in just one year. Sardines and anchovies eat the plankton that should be growing on our ocean pastures and their disappearance is proof positive that those pastures are in a state of collapse.

Hundreds of starving California sea lion pups have been rescued.

Hundreds of starving California sea lion pups have been rescued and are being nursed back to health in animal rescue centers. Vastly greater numbers are dying silently and invisibly at sea.

The majority of California sea lion pups are birthed on four islands, San Miguel, San Nicolas, San Clemente and Santa Barbara, part of the Channel Islands northwest of Los Angeles. One scientist who has been studying sea lion populations on San Miguel Island reports devastating news. In September, the average weight of 3-month-old pups on two islands was 19 percent below normal. By February, pups were weighing in at 44 percent below normal.

On San Miguel Island, where 20,000 sea lions are born each June, researchers believe “probably close to 10,000 are dead, and we expect more to die over coming months and the mortality rate is similar on San Nicolas Island,” noted a NOAA biologist.

Drought Of Dust

The ocean pasture crisis to the west of California is brought on by the collapse of the plankton blooms. Ocean pasture “grass” is disappearing fast, its plankton blooms have stopped blooming under the stress of a worsening multi-decade long drought of dust. Like any pasture on land if there is no grass little animal life can be sustained. Here’s a link to a simple explanation on the Yin and Yang of pastures on land and sea and how rain and dust share the most vital role of giving life on this blue planet.

Just as Walt Whitman once said, “All beef is grass.” So too I say, “All fish is plankton.”

Ocean advocates and academics are in a storm of argument over just what is the root cause of the once verdant and abundant California Pacific Ocean Pastures being now seen in total collapse. The usual suspects being blamed are ‘climate change’ and ‘bad over-fishermen’ and are of course at the top of the list by those called upon by the media to explain the crisis. But the reality is that the cause of the crisis of California’s blue deserts, and similar blue desertification of ocean pastures in all of the worlds Seven Seas, is both more simple to explain and to resolve. Vital ocean mineral micronutrients delivered by dust in the wind, especially iron, have become a desperately depleted resource.

The drought of rain being experienced by California’s lands doesn’t hold a candle to the far worse “drought of dust” that has turned California’s once abundant oceans into blue deserts.


NASA movie of dust blowing around the globe. Click to read more

Three sources of the vital mineral micronutrients are known for the North Pacific.

1. The largest source comes in the form of dust in the wind, and that dust comes from across the Pacific and the dry dusty lands of Western China and Mongolia’s Gobi desert.

2. The second smaller source of vital minerals for these E.Pacific ocean pastures comes from upwelling waters that recycle iron from the deep ocean to the sunlit surface waters where ocean plant life, the phytoplankton, ordinarily thrive.

3. Lastly a tiny amount of iron comes from streams and rivers along the coast.

Global Greening Is Making Blue Deserts

Global Greening (click to enlarge)

Global Greening in response to high and rising CO2 in the air is covering the ground with more plant life producing a global drought of dust that is killing ocean pastures (click to enlarge)

What we know with certainty is that the dust blowing from the dry lands and deserts of Asia has dramatically declined. This is because of three big human influences.

First, the high and rising levels of CO2 in the world’s air, now some 42% higher than 100 years ago, is helping plants on land grow better. Especially the grasses of the drylands of the world like the Gobi. Our CO2 is producing a profound global greening and as bushier, greener, longer lived grasses are what every farmer and pasture manager calls “GOOD GROUND COVER.” That’s great news for life on land but the worst news for life in the oceans.



Puffins are suffering massive starvation in the North Atlantic

As the lands become more green less and less dust is blowing away from them in the wind. The immediate consequence is that ocean pastures of the Pacific and indeed almost every ocean pasture region of the world are becoming blue deserts. Dust is as vital to ocean plant life as is rain for plants on land. Evidence of this world-wide worsening blue desert disaster is clearly seen in reports coming in from around the world on vast numbers of starving seabirds and sea life along with collapse of ocean fisheries. It’s not just off the coast of California so this isn’t regional phenomenon that some academics and others are claiming. Here’s a report on the iconic North Atlantic Puffins in crisis and another on the death of 5 million seabirds on the shores of Australia and New Zealand.


China’s Great Green Wall is working to save precious topsoil from blowing away in the wind converting millions of hectares of desert into productive pasture and crop lands

Second, along with the powerful force of our CO2 driven global greening nations around the world have long been doing everything they could to stop dust from blowing away from their lands, that dust is topsoil that sustains pastures and crops on land. The US government was successful 80 years ago in its creation of the US Soil Conservation Service who successfully stopped the infamous dust bowl years of the dirty thirties saving countless millions of tons of topsoil that was blowing away in the wind.

Today in China and Africa similar efforts are proving equally successful including the building of the Great Green Walls of China and Africa to stop vital top soil dust from blowing away in the wind, tragically turning dusty deserts on land into green pastures is turning green ocean pastures into blue deserts.

Third, to make the plight of ocean pastures even worse as ocean plant life has collapsed this has triggered a terrible feedback mechanism. The billions of tonnes of CO2 that would have been captured by phytoplankton growing in verdant ocean pastures is now proceeding to form acidification of those same oceans. When CO2 in the air meets ocean water it reacts to form carbonic acid.

H2O + CO2 → H2CO2 (carbonic acid) + Ocean Death
H2O + CO2 + Dust → more plankton + Ocean Life

                    Which do you choose?

That’s the same tart acid that makes our soft-drinks tasty or as many a home experiment has shown will dissolve a nail. UNLESS phytoplankton powered by sunlight are there to take that CO2 and turn it into ocean life. For phytoplankton to do that they need just the tiniest amount of iron carrying mineral dust – all they are is dust in the wind. Today with the dust in the wind having gone missing that CO2 is becoming ocean death.




Record salmon returns

My 2012 ocean pasture restoration project worked so well it brought back record salmon returns To Alaska the very next year. We can bring California’s dying ocean pastures back to health if we begin before it is too late. click to read more

Learn how this can be done not at a cost of billions but rather at a cost of pennies!