Scientists study massive krill die-off on coast

Scientists study massive krill die-off on coast
FILE - This July 19, 2010 photo released by the Point Reyes Bird Observatory and NOAA shows a krill from the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off the Northern California coast. Millions of krill, a tiny shrimp-like animal that is a cornerstone of the ocean food web, have been washing up on beaches in Southern Oregon and Northern California the past few weeks and scientists are not sure why. (AP Photo/PRBO/NOAA, Sophie Webb, file)

EUREKA, Calif. (AP) — Scientists are trying to determine what caused millions of shrimp-like critters known as krill to die and wash ashore along 250 miles of coast from northern California to southern Oregon last month.

Scientists say the strandings were reported from Newport, Ore. to McKinleyville in northern Humboldt County in mid-June, making it the geographically largest krill die-off on record.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports one theory is that a shift in the wind caught the animals near the ocean surface and caused them to be swept ashore.

Officials say an examination of 10 krill found all were female and most carried sperm packets, suggesting they may have perished just after mating.

Scientists have noted an abundance of krill that have drawn a concentration of whales and salmon this year.

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Information from: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.