There's a human trait called landscape amnesia. It's the tendancy to see what you've seen in the recent past as 'normal' while forgetting about what your world was like a generation or two in the past. But it's more than an amnesia, it can be an anaesthetic numbing us to rapid change that ought to be stirring us to ask what's going on.
Another bad year for the Fraser River sockeye run. There's barely a million, million and a half sockeye returned this year. Sounds like a lot until you realize there ought to be another nine and a half million that are nowhere to be found. Nobody knows what happened. Nobody has seen anything like this before. The run totalled 1.4 million last year, 1.7 the year before that.
Our Department of Fisheries is left guessing. One idea is that rising ocean temperatures may have sharply cut the availability of plankton the sockeye feed on but that's just a guess. Who knows, maybe we'll discover that new predator species have travelled up from the south to take the salmon, spurred on by the earlier collapse of salmon stocks in California and Oregon (both states have shut down salmon fishing entirely for the second year in a row).
We were all taken by surprise this week when 300-500 giant Humboldt squid washed up on Long Beach near Tofino. Those things are supposed to be in the Sea of Cortez down in Baja, Mexico. They shocked the good people of San Diego last month when a mass of them washed ashore down there. How and why the Humboldt migrated up here no one knows.
The once rare giant sunfish, normally from the south, is now spotted fairly commonly in BC waters. Anchovies have moved into regions normally inhabited by herring. Humpback whales now have to migrate into the Beaufort Sea because the krill have moved north out of the Bering.
We're seeing these events with our very eyes and they're occuring over a span of years, not decades. Our ecological landscape is rapidly changing. Makes you wonder how long it will be until we forget the way it was around here even ten years ago. Makes you wonder what tomorrow will look like.