Sick Sea

On May 15 we were treated to the second Climate Change Symposium, organized by a group of Del Mar residents.  This second symposium was centered on the effects of climate change on the ocean.  Two scientists from Scripps Institute for Oceanography were the first speakers.  Dr. Sasha Gershunov focused on California’s “hydroclimate,” which has far greater year-to-year variability than any other regions of the United States.  Atmospheric rivers, which drop huge amounts of rain within a short period of time, account for most of the variability.  In addition, atmospheric rivers cause the devastating flooding that California has experienced in recent years.  Dr. Jennifer Smith described the biodiversity of the marine ecosystems.  She explained that giant kelp grow up to 2 feet per day and support a great diversity of marine life.  However, giant kelp forests are endangered by warming oceans due to climate change, and by over fishing for sheephead fish and spiny lobsters, both of which eat sea urchins.  Sea urchins, in turn, eat giant kelp and so overgrowth of the sea urchin population can devastate the giant kelp forests.  Her research includes trying to isolate kelp more tolerant to warming waters by breeding and selection.  The last speaker was Ann Middleton, associate director of the non-profit Wildcoast, which has headquarters in Del Mar.  She encouraged residents to volunteer with Wildcoast to study activities near Marine Protected Areas.


If you missed this informative Symposium, the recording of the talks will be available in a few weeks at  The first symposium recording is available there. We were pleased to hear that there will be a third Symposium in about 6 months.  Thanks to the organizers, and to the Del Mar Foundation for funding.