23 Jun 2011:
Marine Life Census Reveals
Major Ocean Corridors in North Pacific
A decade-long census of marine life in the North Pacific Ocean has documented how abundant seasonal food supplies attract an array of predators annually to two major oceanic corridors
, which researchers
Click to enlarge
Craig Hayslip/OSU Marine Mammal Institute
A blue whale encountered during a tagging expedition
liken to African savannas of the sea. In a study conducted by 75 biologists, oceanographers, engineers and computer scientists, researchers placed more than 4,300 electronic tags on 23 critical marine species to map migration routes and habitat preferences and identify major seasonal hot spots for predator species. Reporting in the journal, Nature
, researchers identified two major corridors: the California Current, which flows south along the U.S. west coast, and a trans-oceanic corridor called the North Pacific Transition Zone, which forms the border between cold sub-Arctic waters and warmer subtropical waters. Those two zones contain massive amounts of zooplankton and fish, which in turn attract larger predators. In the California Current, researchers found that large numbers of whales, sharks, seals, and tuna return annually to areas where they were first tagged and where food is most abundant.
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