Halloween is over a month away, but October is just around the corner, so if you are like me, that's enough just cause to start talking scary things. Creatures that are spawned from the depths of dark minds like Stephen King can keep you up at night, but truly, nothing is more frightening than real "monsters", and what's taking place in the Pacific Ocean off of our West Coast right now could warrant it's own feature film.
They call it the blob. It's an ever-changing surface ridge that is comprised of unusually warm water resulting from a rare weather pattern that occurred two years ago. It spreads 1,000 miles in each direction and runs about 300 feet deep. The blob negatively affects the ocean's natural water circulation by not allowing nutrient rich colder water to reach the surface and, correspondingly, limits the amount of much needed oxygen available. This changes the composition of the water and retards the growth and proliferation of the keystone food chain link, phytoplankton. Phytoplankton is a necessary microscopic food source that supports many vital ocean species. Without phytoplankton the entire food web is threatened.
The blob is striking real fear into marine biologists, fishermen, and oyster farmers alike. It is thought to be a contributing factor to the devastating drought occurring in California and the cause of the damaging algal blooms that have shut down many West Coast oyster farms this summer. It is believed that the blob is here to stay and that increasing water temperatures are an immediate threat to hundreds of species in both traditionally warm and cold water regions. The blob of the movies was a slow stalker, an immutable force that slowly swallowed whole anything and anyone that got near it. The real blob is much more subtle, but if it continues to hang around, it could prove to be a more significant problem.