What is the Warm Blob?

Scientists across NOAA Fisheries are watching an expanse of extraordinarily warm water spanning the Gulf of Alaska that could affect marine life. The warm spot – coined the “Warm Blob” by meteorologists – appeared nearly two years ago. The longer it stays, the greater impact it will have on ocean life from jellyfish to salmon, researchers say.

The water in the Warm Blob is about five degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the typical ocean temperature. Marine animals from Mexico to Alaska are impacted and it may be altering weather across the continent.

Although five degrees may not seem like a lot, the concern stems from the fact that the Warm Blob has grown from a small patch of water to 500 miles across, and is the largest and longest-lasting temperature difference on record.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly what caused the blob, but they think it may have links to the California drought. The temperature change also has caused creatures from tropical and temperate zones to wander north into places where they’re not usually found, and others that normally stay far out at sea have ventured closer to the coast, according to a Seattle Times article.

Changes in sea surface temperature can alter marine ecosystems. For example, variations in ocean temperature will affect what species of plants, animals and microbes are present in a location, change migration and breeding patterns, and threaten sensitive ocean life such as corals. Also, because the oceans continuously interact with the atmosphere, sea surface temperature can also have profound effects on global climate. Increases in sea surface temperature have led to an increase in the amount of water vapor over the oceans, increasing the risk of heavy rain and snow. Changes in sea surface temperature can also shift storm tracks, contributing to droughts in some places.

To read more about the Warm Blob phenomenon, click on this recent article from Discovery: http://news.discovery.com/earth/oceans/mysterious-warm-water-blob-in-pacific-wreaking-havoc-150617.htm

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Alaska Pacific Halibut Stars with Innovative Relish

A fan favorite, Hy-Vee Responsible Choice Alaska Pacific Halibut steaks have a delicate, sweet flavor and firm texture that is perfect for the grill. In one of my favorite recipes, halibut steaks pair well with minimal ingredients, creating a simple meal for your family that doesn’t give up flavor or nutrition.

As an added bonus, halibut is rich in various nutrients, including selenium, magnesium, phosphorus potassium, vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids. It is an excellent source of high-quality protein and minerals, low in sodium, fat and calories and contains a minimum of bones.

Enjoy this spring-fresh recipe, 48 hours fresh from the Pacific – Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Alaska Halibut.

Grilled Responsible Choice Alaska Pacific Halibut with Roasted Red Pepper and Kalamata Olive Relish

Serves 4

All you need:Pacific Halibut and Relish

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced roasted red peppers
  • 1 tbsp thinly sliced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 Responsible Choice Alaska Pacific Halibut steaks
  • Olive oil for brushing, as needed

    All you do:

  1. Stir together the roasted red peppers, shallot, garlic, Kalamata olives, basil, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
  2. Heat an outdoor gas grill or prepare coals for a charcoal grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat. Brush the cooking grates clean, and oil the grill rack.
  3. Brush Responsible Choice Alaska Pacific Halibut steaks with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill steaks over direct heat for 10 minutes per side, or until opaque but still moist, in the center.
  5. Serve topped with red pepper relish.