Archive for October, 2015

Oct 13 2015

‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’ retires, making room for rain

El Niño is expected to bring a low-pressure system, which will replace the high-pressure system that's exacerbated California's drought.
El Niño is expected to bring a low-pressure system, which will replace the high-pressure system that’s exacerbated California’s drought.


The high pressure system that has shunted storms away from California for much of the past four years has dissipated, possibly for a long time.

The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge — as meteorologists and forecasters have dubbed the system because of its unusual persistence — has been absent for more than a month, according to a forecaster with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It hasn’t been like that since August really, and instead we’ve had sort of more variable weather patterns,” said Nate Mantua, a research scientist with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz.

Mantua said the ridge will likely stay away, because it will have been replaced by a low-pressure trough.

“The expectations are as we get into Fall and Winter seasons more deeply, we’re going to see a lot more low pressure there, and that will be the more sort of dominant story,” Mantua said.

Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, said low-pressure systems typically accompany El Niño events.

“Lower pressure in the Eastern Pacific is a classic pattern you’d see with an El Niño setting up with the jet stream a little more to the south, and that’s were we get into our storm track coming up from the southwest across California,” Boldt said.

The high-pressure ridge has created a large swath of unusually warm water off the coast. Boldt said the warm water would take months to dissipate and that its interaction with El Niño isn’t well understood. However, he said storms from strong El Niño events, which can bring heavy rains to California, could be bolstered by the warm water.

“That’s the part that is a little bit unprecedented. We don’t really have a good idea about how that might impact us, but warmer ocean temperatures typically lead to fueling the atmosphere and kind of energizing those storms. So I don’t think it’s going to be a negative for us,” Boldt said.

Mantua said the disappearance of the ridge and the presence of a strong El Niño is likely to produce a lot of rain in Southern California.

“[The low-pressure system is] just another factor that sort of favors a more normal winter, although I don’t think it’s going to be normal. I think it’s going to be probably an exciting winter, especially for Southern California,” Mantua said.

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Oct 12 2015

Pacific Bonito and Albacore Tuna Among Non-Native Fish Species Sighted in Alaska’s Warmer Waters

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

Copyright © 2015

Seafood News


What are you doing here? Unusual fish appear in Alaska

It’s a fascinating time to be an Alaska fish biologist, charter operator or angler. With warmer ocean temperatures caused by El Nino and a phenomenon called “The Blob,” bizarre fish sightings are pouring in from around the state, particularly Southeast.

Scott Meyer, a state fishery biologist based in Homer, is amassing photos from colleagues and boat captains who have hauled in everything from a 900-pound ocean sunfish near Juneau to warm-water thresher sharks off the coast of Yakutat since July.

“It’s unusual to have these fish caught in near-shore fisheries,” Meyer said.

The warm-water mass nicknamed The Blob has been swirling around the Pacific Ocean for the past couple of years and moving north toward Alaska. At the same time, El Nino is in full force this year, a weather pattern characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures. As a result, ocean conditions including temperatures and food sources for fish are changing and species not normally found in state waters are showing up.

The peak of the 2015-2016 El Nino is approaching, with this year’s event among the strongest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Blob has raised temperatures in the North Pacific to record highs of about five to seven degrees Fahrenheit above average, according to NOAA.

Joe Orsi, a federal fisheries biologist in Juneau, said two massive sunfish swam into researchers’ gear in Southeast this summer as they conducted juvenile salmon surveys. Sunfish tend to favor warmer waters than those found in Alaska.

Other unusual reports include Pacific bonito caught in waters off Ketchikan, albacore tuna spotted near Prince of Wales Island, and yellow tail caught near Sitka.

As recently as last Saturday, an ocean sunfish washed ashore outside a lodge in Cordova.

Steve Moffitt, the state biologist who dissected the sunfish, said pilots and fishermen have reported several sightings of sunfish this summer. They were likely chasing the warmer currents and a huge mass of jellyfish that filled the waters around Cordova, he said.

“Sunfish really like to eat jellyfish,” Moffitt said.

California market squid are also starting to spawn in Southeast, Orsi said.

While the usual fish sightings are interesting from a biological perspective, they may be a cause for concern, Orsi said. One of his top questions: if ocean temperatures rise, how will big-money fish like salmon be affected?

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game forecast the Southeast pink salmon harvest in 2015 at 58 million fish, yet fishermen hauled in only about 34 million pinks, according to state records.

Did The Blob and El Nino cause the low catch level? Hard to say definitively but it’s “certainly easy to point the finger at them,” said Dave Harris, Fish and Game’s commercial fishery management biologist in Juneau.

“Those are the most likely suspects,” Harris said.

Copyright © 2015

Oct 9 2015

El Niño: When will it start raining in California?

Frankie Frost — Marin Independent Journal

One of the strongest El Niño winters ever recorded since modern records first began in 1950 continues to grow in the Pacific Ocean, federal scientists reported Thursday.

So, with the likelihood for a wet winter increasing across drought-parched California, residents staring at empty reservoirs and dead lawns are asking: “When will it start pouring?”

The answer, experts said Thursday, is that winter storms in strong El Niño years typically bring more rain to California than normal, but they don’t do it any earlier.

An analysis of the five winters back to 1950 in which strong El Niño conditions similar to this year have occurred shows that in the Bay Area during those years, October has been only slightly wetter than the historic average. November has been nearly twice as wet in most. December has been oddly drier than normal in all five strong El Niño winters. And the bulk of the rain — the real downpours with high risk of floods and mudslides — have occurred in January and February.

“For the most part, our rainy season really gets going in November, and El Niño is an add-on to our regular rainy season,” said Jan Null, a meteorologist formerly with the National Weather Service who runs Golden Gate Weather Services in Saratoga.

Using San Francisco rainfall as a baseline for the Bay Area, in four of the five strong El Niño years — 1957-58, 1972-73, 1982-83 and 1997-98 — the overall annual rainfall totals have exceeded the historical average of 23.9 inches. In the wettest, 1997-98, the rainfall was double the average, at 47.22, with relentless rainfall in January and February that soaked the state and caused flooding and mudslides. Other Bay Area cities showed similar patterns.

“If we don’t see a lot of rain in December, we should realize that’s not a big deal; it’s happened before in strong El Niño years,” said Null, who compiled the data. “January and February have been big months.”

Only once, in 1965-66, when the annual rainfall totaled 15.84 inches, was there a drier-than-normal year in the Bay Area during a strong El Niño.

On average, 70 percent of the Bay Area’s yearly rain total falls during just four months: November, December, January and February, a staple of Northern California’s Mediterranean climate. Similarly, during the soaked winter of 1997-98, about 77 percent of the Bay Area’s rain fell in those same four months.


On Thursday, scientists at NOAA issued their monthly El Niño update. It reported very warm Pacific Ocean temperatures at the equator in a key area that indicates El Niño strength. The water there, off Peru, averaged 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the historic average in September, up from 3.72 degrees above average in August and slightly above September 1997, when it was 4 degrees warmer.

“This El Niño continues to be a strong event, and we have every expectation that it will remain this way through the winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. “The ocean has gotten a little warmer. It continues to strengthen.”

NOAA scientists said there continues to be a 95 percent chance that El Niño conditions will continue through the end of this year — up from 85 percent in June and 50 percent last spring.

El Niño is a disruption in the weather patterns over the Pacific Ocean, when the ocean’s surface warms more than normal. Those warm waters release heat, changing wind directions and the jet stream, which often brings more and wetter storms to California.

Halpert agreed that this year, if big storms come, they aren’t likely to come any earlier than in a normal winter.

For Californians wishing for soaking rains, Halpert said it’s important to remember that too much water too fast can also create major problems. He cited South Carolina, where 17 people have died this week in flooding related to Hurricane Joaquin, and at least 11 dams have breached.


“If you get 15 or 20 inches of rain in a few days, nobody has the infrastructure to deal with that,” he said. “I have expectations this winter when I turn on the news that I will see houses sliding into the Pacific Ocean. It’s not a good thing, but it’s almost a hallmark of these kinds of El Niño winters.”

However, Halpert noted that if storms aren’t cool enough they won’t build up the Sierra snowpack, a key water source for California. And with a significant rainfall deficit in most parts of the state, even a very wet winter might not end the drought in one year.

Nevertheless, with the likelihood of strong storms growing, California residents have begun preparing. Roofing companies are booked solid. Cities and water districts are stockpiling sandbags and clearing clogged stream channels. Utilities are trimming dead trees from four years of drought away from power lines.

“We are taking the prospect of a wet winter very seriously,” said Matt Nauman, a spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric, which provides electricity and natural gas to 16 million people from Bakersfield to Eureka. Nauman said the company has 350 arborists and foresters and 650 tree crews working to trim trees on 134,000 miles of overhead power lines to reduce the risk of blackouts when storms knock dead branches into power lines. Widespread blackouts happened during the 1997-98 and 1982-83 storms.

“We need to be ready whatever the weather ends up being,” he said.

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Oct 9 2015

Bill to Make Tri-State West Coast Dungeness Fishery Management Permanent Clears House

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

Copyright © 2015

Seafood News

A bill that will permanently allow Washington, Oregon and California state fishery managers to jointly manage the West Coast Dungeness crab fishery cleared its first hurdle in Congress this week.

HR 2168, the West Coast Dungeness Crab Management Act, proposed by US Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and backed by state Senator Maria Cantwell, passed the US House this week and will now go up for Senate approval.

If approved, the law will allow Washington, Oregon and California to continue their work– at a state level–to manage the West Coast Dungeness Crab Fishery.

The bill actually extends a measure approved in 1996 that allowed the three states to work with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to manage the stocks and conduct fishery science. It represented a unique marriage of state and federal fishery management.

The 1996 accord is set to expire in 2016, but Beutler’s proposal would make the state and federal pact permanent.

“The successful, two decades-old tri-state Dungeness crab management agreement will expire the on September 30, 2016. This bill simply makes that working management authority between Washington, Oregon, and California permanent,” said Beutler.

This bill will now go before Congress where some industry sources say it has a 68 percent chance of approval.


Oct 9 2015

Scientists Say Fish Are the World’s Best Athletes

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

Copyright © 2015

Seafood News

Humans toss around sports titles like they own them. “World’s Greatest Athlete.” “World Record Holder.” “Fastest Alive.”

Name any winner at any Olympics at any event in track and field and this much is almost certain, a new research paper argues: A wide variety of athletic fish would blow right by them. Trout, salmon, tuna and other fleet fish are capable of producing far more oxygen in their bodies for mind-blowing performance.

“Fish exploit a mechanism that is up to 50-times more effective in releasing oxygen to their tissues than that found in humans,” said Jodie Rummer, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

“This is because their hemoglobin, the protein in blood that transports oxygen, is more sensitive to changes in pH than ours and more than the hemoglobin in other animals,” she said.

That’s right, other animals. The humble trout and salmon, not to mention powerful tuna, can also blow away some of the fastest mammals on land.

Fish have developed this ability for longer than humans can imagine, given their standing as some of the first organisms to form hundreds of millions of years ago. Humans run marathons. Salmon swim entire coastlines and tuna swim around the world.

When they’re challenged – which generally means chased by predators – they really get on their horse, flying underwater at incredible speeds. Humans catch them easily, but advance fishing tools and methods cheat nature.

A quick getaway from predators isn’t the only skill fish evolved to survive. Conditions in water can change dramatically, especially with humans around adding phosphorous, nitrogen and acidity to water.

In areas of low oxygen in water, such as a problem known as dead zones that leave them sucking for air, they can double or triple oxygen delivery to their tissue. The study was published early this week in the journal PLOS One.

Researchers have used rainbow trout to understand how fish deliver oxygen for the past decade. First they tested how it’s done by monitoring rainbow trout muscle oxygen levels in real-time. Then they compared the results with medical studies of humans to show how much more powerful fish like trout and salmon are.

“This information tells us how fish have adapted this very important process of getting oxygen and delivering it to where it needs to be so that they can live in all kinds of conditions, warm or cold water, and water with low oxygen levels,” Rummer said.

Many elite runners have taken to wearing elevation training masks that reduce their oxygen intake, hoping to simulate breathing at a higher altitude to better their performance. Fish don’t need a mask. They’re born that way.

“This trait may be particularly central to performance in athletic species, such as long-distance swimming salmon or fast swimming tuna,” said Colin Brauner, a University of British Columbia researcher and study co-author.

“For fish,” he said, “enhanced oxygen delivery may be one of the most important adaptations of their 400-million-year evolutionary history.”


Copyright © 2015

Oct 9 2015

California Approves Law for Commercial Fishermen to Set Up Public Seafood Markets

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

Copyright © 2015

Seafood News

Seafood markets will be allowed to operate in the public square just like farmers markets, now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins’ Pacific to Plate Act. AB 226 removes red tape, making it easier for shoppers to purchase local seafood.

“The massive growth of farmers markets across the state shows us the benefits of allowing direct sales between farmers and consumers,” said Atkins (D-San Diego). “Coastal communities and small-business owners throughout California deserve the same opportunities.”

Pacific to Plate streamlines the permitting process so that commercial fishermen can organize under a single permit—just like certified farmers markets—allowing public seafood markets to operate as food facilities and fresh fish to be cleaned for direct sale.

“By making it easier to establish and open these markets, we hope to create more jobs for local fishermen and give San Diegans more fish caught fresh off our waters,” said County Supervisor Greg Cox. “My thanks to Speaker Toni Atkins and our local fishermen for working together to make this law happen.”

Pacific to Plate also establishes guidelines such as compliance with the California Retail Food Code and food-safety requirements.

San Diego’s Tuna Harbor Dockside Fish Market celebrated its anniversary in August. It has expanded to include 17 vendors selling their catch, comprising 22 species caught in local waters, including swordfish, yellowtail, squid, and white sea bass.

“The changes to the law will have environmental, economic, and societal benefits as fishermen get a fair price for their product and the consumer gets high-quality local fish, also at a fair price. This will restore the fishermen’s place in San Diego fishing culture,” said Peter Halmay, one of the founders of Tuna Harbor.

Copyright © 2015

Oct 9 2015

Oncoming El Niño likely to continue species shakeup in Pacific

sunfishCrews from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center caught two large ocean sunfish far to the north of where the species usually occurs. Photo credit: AFSC.

 One-two punch of El Niño and “warm blob” could boost coastal temperatures and supercharge storms

Contributed by Michael Milstein

The emerging El Niño climate pattern that is warming the tropical Pacific Ocean is likely to continue–and could even increase–the appearance of marine species in unfamiliar places along the West Coast. This trend started with a vast “warm blob” of high temperature waters that has dominated the Northeast Pacific since 2014.

Previous El Niños coincided with large-scale redistribution of some West Coast marine mammals, fish and sea turtles. The combination of an anticipated strong El Niño and the blob may do the same, possibly in new and different ways, NOAA Fisheries researchers say.

“One of our big questions right now is, how can we best link observed changes in species distributions to changing environmental conditions?” said Dave Weller of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California. Weller is chief scientist for the ongoing Collaborative Large Whale Survey, a joint survey for whales off the West Coast and Southeast Alaska by the SWFSC and Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

“We need to be clever about it in terms of using a range of observations and having eyes on the water in the form of ship surveys like this can really help,” Weller said.

NOAA Fisheries scientists have been tracking the blob since last year and are cooperatively following continued changes in ocean conditions through at-sea surveys, remote sensing and automated monitoring to understand how the changes are affecting marine ecosystems.

The blob has already driven temperatures in the North Pacific some 3 to 4 degrees C (about 5 to 7 degrees F) above average. Not since records began around 1900 have temperatures in the region been so warm for so long.

Temperature changes shift marine life

Already in the last month the survey spotted about 25 pilot whales around 50 miles off the Central California Coast. Pilot whales were once common off Southern California but largely disappeared following a strong El Niño pattern in the early 1980s. In the last few years pilot whales have begun to trickle back into the area, a sign they may be starting to reoccupy former habitat.

“This recent uptick in pilot whale sightings may be related to the warm blob’s influence,” Weller said. “If we pay close attention to the animals, they’re telling us something about changes in their environment. We now need to connect the puzzle pieces.” Scientists are also investigating connections between the blob and a harmful algal bloom along the West Coast that may be a factor in an unusual number of whale deaths in Alaska.

Rockfish surveys conducted by the SWFSC in May and June already showed the likely influence of warm water from the blob, turning up large catches of species typically seen during strong El Niño periods, and some never before seen in the survey. They included record high catches of pelagic red crabs and California spiny lobster, and the survey’s first-ever catches of warm-water species including greater Argonaut (a swimming octopus with a shell), slender snipefish and subtropical krill.

Offshore surveys by the AFSC pulled in warmer-water species including two large ocean sunfish and market squid, species which have not been seen in the prior 18 years of sampling, said Joe Orsi of the AFSC’s Auke Bay Laboratories. Other warm-water species reported from Alaska recently include albacore, bonito and yellowtail.

“This El Niño is liable to bring some really strange changes in ocean conditions because the widespread warming of the North Pacific we saw with the blob was so far outside of our experience,” said Northwest Fisheries Science Center oceanographer Bill Peterson. “When you put an El Niño on top of that it is anyone’s guess as to how this will affect marine organisms.” He tracks types of plankton off the Central Oregon Coast for insight into ocean conditions. He expects a new surge of warm-water plankton as the tropical El Niño begins to influence Oregon waters this fall.

Salmon and other species that thrive in cold water often do poorly in warm years, especially strong El Niño years, he noted, while species such as sardines that favor warmer water could do better.

El Nino vs. the blob

Now another key question is how the tropical El Niño and the blob may interact as El Niño gains strength and begins to affect the West Coast this fall and winter. In terms of size, El Niño far exceeds the blob and is expected to pummel the blob with storms that will likely break up the blob and push its warm water up along much of the West Coast, said Nate Mantua, leader of the SWFSC’s Landscape Ecology Team.

That will likely make this the third winter in a row with record-high coastal temperatures that affect both marine ecosystems and the coastal climate. El Niño typically shifts the jet stream in a way that redirects storms from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California instead.

“Because we’re starting from an exceptionally high baseline temperature this could take us further into uncharted territory in terms of effects,” Mantua said.

He said there is potential for the warm coastal temperatures to “supercharge” storms spawned by El Niño. Since warmer air holds more moisture storms may carry greater precipitation ashore, which could lead to more intense deluges on land. That could multiply the impacts of this summer’s large wildfires by pouring water on recently burned slopes.

“If you put heavy rains on that, you can get mudslides, debris flows, rapid runoff and other serious impacts,” Mantua said.

California sea lions will likely continue to struggle as the warm water temperatures lead to shifts in prey, he said. Record numbers of starving sea lion pups stranded on Southern California beaches last winter and spring as their mothers had a harder time finding food near their rookeries in the Channel Islands.

Investigations of the sea lion strandings by AFSC researcher Sharon Melin and others found that adult females could not maintain enough lactation to support normal pup growth. In July 2015 AFSC biologists recorded declines in the number of sea lion pups born on San Miguel and San Nicholas islands, another sign of nutritional stress in the population.

Mantua noted that El Niño effects extend far beyond the West Coast of North America. Dry conditions in Central America have already led to restrictions on the size of ships that can transit the Panama Canal because of lack of water, for instance. Meanwhile heavy rains are falling in the Peruvian desert.

“This El Niño will likely cause extreme climate events in different parts of the world for the next six to nine months,” Mantua said.

How science tracks conditions

The way that El Niño interacts with the warm blob may depend on the depth and extent of the blob’s warm water, which remains something of a mystery, said Toby Garfield, director of the SWFSC’s Environmental Research Division. If it’s shallow, it should dissipate quickly. But if it’s deeper, the larger volume of water may hang on longer.

“How much heat does it hold and how that volume of hot water out there may or may not change things, those are the questions everyone’s asking right now,” Garfield said. “This is going to be a very interesting winter coming up and many scientists and communities will be working hard to anticipate and prepare for changes in the ocean and atmosphere.”

Marine scientist are mobilizing partnerships to make the most of ocean monitoring instruments along the West Coast. New instruments such as autonomous gliders that survey ocean conditions may offer opportunities to gather marine data that was not available during previous El Niños, Garfield said.

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Oct 9 2015

Savoring Sustainable Seafood

A Message from Eileen Sobeck, Head of NOAA Fisheries

October is National Seafood Month and across the country, there’s a bounty of delectable seafood choices to enjoy from U.S. fisheries.

Our fisheries are among the largest and most sustainable in the world, and all U.S. seafood is responsibly harvested and grown under a strong monitoring, management, and enforcement regime that works to keep the marine environment healthy, fish and shellfish populations thriving, and our seafood industry on the job.

A steady, sustainable supply of safe, healthy seafood is a critical ingredient to keeping our coastal communities and working waterfronts resilient, both environmentally and economically. And we know that our investments in science-based fisheries management are paying off. In 2013, U.S. fishermen landed 9.9 billion pounds of fish and shellfish worth $5.5 billion—that’s an increase of 245 million pounds and an additional $388 million compared to 2012. And in 2014, the number of U.S. fish stocks rebuilt since 2000 increased to 37. As a result of the combined efforts of NOAA Fisheries, the regional fishery management councils, and all of our partners, the number of stocks listed as subject to overfishing or overfished continues to decline and are at an all-time low.

For more facts about what makes U.S. seafood sustainable, seafood lovers can turn to FishWatch, the nation’s database on sustainable fisheries. And some great news—coming soon, consumers can find FishWatch information when they’re on the go—right on their phone or tablet.

Stay tuned throughout National Seafood Month as NOAA Fisheries features stories and updates on our website highlighting:

  • The dynamic process of sustainably managing living marine resources in an ever-changing ocean environment;
  • Getting to know your seafood from ocean-to-plate;
  • Recent advancements in aquaculture, and much more.

You can also learn more about the 100 marine species profiled on FishWatch with our daily #SeafoodMonth facts coming soon.

This October, we encourage you to take some time to stop and savor the season, as well as the healthful and tasty seafood available.

Eileen Sobeck
Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries

Oct 9 2015

Ask Well: Canned vs. Fresh Fish

Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times


Q: Does canned fish like tuna and salmon have the same nutritional value as fresh fish?

The canned products are certainly cheaper, available and convenient.

A: Yes, fresh and canned fish have roughly the same nutritional value, according to experts and the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database. And whether to eat one over the other isn’t an obvious choice, because each has advantages and disadvantages, said Alice Lichtenstein, a professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

Canned tends to be cheaper and easier than fresh, with a longer shelf life. But it also tends to have more sodium than fresh, she said, and many people prefer the taste of fresh.

Canned fish is also more likely to be wild than farmed, said Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian and manager of nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute; some types of farmed fish have been found to be high in pollutants. Plus, canned fish such as sardines generally provide more calcium, because the calcium-rich bones are softened by processing and therefore more likely to be eaten.

In terms of mercury levels, a particular concern for pregnant women, Dr. Lichtenstein said she suspected that canned fish like salmon probably contains less mercury than fresh, because smaller-size fish, which carry less mercury than larger ones, are more likely to end up in cans.

If you choose canned, fish canned in oil is more likely than fish packed in water to retain more omega-3 fatty acids, considered good brain food, Ms. Kirkpatrick said, because the oil helps keep the nutrients in the fish. Oil adds extra calories, but if packing in oil means someone will eat fish they wouldn’t otherwise, it’s worth it, Dr. Lichtenstein said.

“Bottom line,” Ms. Kirkpatrick said, “it’s important to get your omega-3s, and one of the easiest and most affordable ways to do that is to go canned. You won’t be skimping on nutrition.”

Do you have a health question? Submit your question to Ask Well.

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Oct 7 2015

Rare Giant Squid Found Off the Coast of Hawaii

A rare giant squid was caught off the coast of Hawaii this week. It will be sent to Washington for further research. Mathew Fowler

A fishing charter off the coast of Hawaii encountered a rare and beautiful sea creature this week: a 7-foot-long giant squid. The creature was dead, floating motionless with the bulb of its head sticking out of the water.

“It was a fishing charter and we had just released a blue marlin. We were just getting the line set back out and my guest actually said, ‘Hey, what is that floating over there?’ We got closer to investigate…as we got close I realized it was a giant squid. It was already on the surface. In Hawaii, we have extremely clear water. We could see his entire body,” explains boat captain Cyrus Widhalm of Kona Sea Adventures.

This is the first time in Widhalm’s 10-year boating career that he has seen such a creature. He was fishing in extremely deep water when they made the discovery, he says.

Once they were close to the squid, Widhalm called a local marine biologist who recommended the crew pull it on board and bring it back to land if it was, in fact, dead. Widhalm and his crew then had to carefully check that the squid was deceased.


The squid appears on the boat. Cyrus Widhalm

“It appeared dead but we weren’t totally sure. My deck hand and I, Manny Billegas II, we reached out over the side of the boat. We didn’t realize how heavy it was. I held him in place as he reached down to get it because we were worried a tentacle would reach out to grab him. Once we were sure it was dead, I got into the water. I pushed it up and he pulled it out,” Widhalm tells Newsweek.


The seven foot long squid took up a chunk of Widhalm’s 36-foot boat. Mathew Fowler

Because of the squid’s size, the entire crew became involved in getting it on shore: Ian MacKelvie, also a deckhand, and anglers Mathew and Miriam Fowler helped out.

“I have a 36-foot boat and it took up quite a bit of space. They’re very gelatinous so they can compress into a small space or really flatten out,” says Widhalm. “My guests were blown away. Everyone was having a lot of fun at that point.”


The squid being brought off the boat. Mathew Fowler

The boat traveled back to a dock in Kailua-Kona and the squid was pulled onto dry land. It was laid on a 72-inch fishing bag and exceeded the size of the bag, leading Widhalm to estimate the squid is at least seven feet long. “It might be the biggest one of that species ever found. There had been another brought in that was half the size,” he says.

squid 5 The squid floats in Hawaiian waters. Mathew Fowler

The squid was also weighted, coming in at 52.7 pounds. Afterward, it was placed on ice to prepare it for a long journey to Washington state, where researchers will examine the rare find. The marine biologist Widhalm consulted on the boat said he believes the squid to be a Megalocranchia fisheri.

In addition to being beautiful sea creatures, squid are rather delicious. When asked if Widhalm considered saving it for dinner, he laughed: “They are edible but it seems like it would better serve as a research tool.”

squid 4

From left to right, Manny Billegas II, Cyrus Widhalm, Ian MacKelvie pose with the giant squid. Mathew Fowler

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