90.1 FM San Luis Obispo | 91.7 FM Paso Robles | 91.1 FM Cayucos | 95.1 FM Lompoc | 90.9 FM Avila
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sea creature that prefers warm water found moving farther up California's coast

Jeff Goddard, UCSB

Central Coast scientists are seeing a number of species show up along the California coast, far north of their usual range. One of these animals is the Hopkins' Rose nudibranch, a pink sea slug.

Jeff Goddard, a project scientist at the UC Santa Barbara Marine Science Intstitute says the Rose nudibranchs are normally found in Southern California, but last year's warmer ocean conditions may have pushed them north. 

He says since the bloom of the pink slug, its northern most point recorded is in Humboldt County. Goddard has been studying these animals for decades and said that the last time he saw an outbreak like this was during a large El Niño season.

"To go back to a large outbreak that wasn't during a large El Niño like this year, I have to reach back to when I was in college and I observed one that coincided during a larger-scale shift in ocean climate, which is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation," said Goddard.  "That's why I'm speculating if the nudibranchs are signaling that this is another shift to warm ocean conditions."

Goddard said it's not known if this is a short-term blip or a warm ocean pattern that could last a couple of decades.