ECOLOGY NIGHTMARE

10/22/1998

As reported by James Estes and Terrie Williams in a recent issue of SCIENCE about the ecology in the Gulf of Alaska.

PREVIOUS FOOD CHAINS:

DEEP WATER

COASTAL WATER

NEW FEEDING PATTERNS
  1. Overfishing and ocean warming reduce fish populations
  2. With less fish, populations of seals and sea lions fall
  3. Starved killer whales start feeding on sea otters instead
  4. sea otter population falls by 25% per year
  5. No longer controlled by sea otter, sea urchin population explodes
  6. sea urchins mow down kelp beds
  7. Species that depend on kelp for protection and food are stressed and decline
    [Coastal Fish, Mussels, Barnacles, Birds]

Within a short period of time a virtual "desert" is formed.