Record numbers of warm-water sea creatures fled north following a marine heatwave that struck the Pacific Ocean between 2014 and 2016.
‘The Blob’ and El Niño caused water temperatures to soar by up to 7°F (3.9°C) throughout the event and scientists noticed creatures normally only found in Mexicoas far north as California and Oregon.
The ‘unprecedented’ migration of these warm-water animals included jellyfish, crabs, fish, molluscs, dolphins and sea turtles.
A study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, documents southern marine species moving northward into California and as far north as Oregon.
Of 67 rare, warm-water species sightings observed by the research team and citizen scientists, 37 had never been documented so far north before.
Among the 37 with new northern range limits are tropical creatures such as the striated sea butterfly, which had not been found north of Baja in Mexico. It is the first record of them in the state of California.
Another unexpected visitor was the pelagic red crab, normally restricted to the waters off central and southern Baja.