Sea Change: Bay Nature’s special coverage of our changing ocean

Sea Change

The Pacific Ocean is one of the most important drivers of the California environment. What’s happening in the ocean directly influences our weather, our biodiversity, and our economy. The California Current, the primary feature of our region of the Pacific, is one of the most productive natural phenomena in the world. But right now we are watching the ocean and the Current operate in ways that are historically unprecedented. View Sea of Troubles video.

In Sea Change, a special series funded by a grant from the Schwemm Family Foundation, Bay Nature takes a closer look at the critical role of the eastern Pacific Ocean and California Current in shaping our region and at the ongoing dramatic changes that have marine and climate scientists revising their models for the future.

Sea ChangeWhat Lurks Beneath

Troubling ocean conditions have challenged scientists. Is a silent killer entering the Bay? 

Early one July morning, a boat left Sausalito looking for evidence of a silent killer from the depths of the sea that might be coming into San Francisco Bay.

The research vessel Mussel Point had a crew of three: a technician, a researcher, and a captain—a deeply tanned and weather-beaten man of the sea who spent the early part of this voyage half-watching the Tour de France on his iPad while the scientists drank coffee. The morning light played across the unruffled waters of the Bay in that sparklyThomas kinkade sort of way that makes you won- der if nature has any taste at all.

The expedition by a team from uc Davis’ Bodega Bay Marine laboratory was to be some of the last physical labor of more than two years and more than a quarter of a mil- lion dollars’ worth of science —all of it being conducted, nervously, during some of the strangest conditions ever recorded in the Pacific ocean. This was the part that gets buried in journal articles under the heading of “Methods,” but actually consumes most of the money and effort. The rV Mussel Point was out looking for five buoys.

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