As the Gulf of Maine continues to warm, massive changes are happening.
The Portland Press Herald has produced a series of significant articles about the warming trend in the Gulf of Maine and how it is impacting the lives of fishermen and others that depend on the sea.
The Gulf of Maine – which extends from Cape Cod in Massachusetts to Cape Sable at the southern tip of Nova Scotia, and includes the Bay of Fundy, the offshore fishing banks, and the entire coast of Maine – has been warming rapidly as the deep-water currents that feed it have shifted.
Since 2004 the gulf has warmed faster than any place else on the planet, except for an area northeast of Japan, and during the “Northwest Atlantic Ocean heat wave” of 2012 average water temperatures hit the highest level in the 150 years that humans have been recording them.“We’re really in the crosshairs of climate change right now,” says Andrew Pershing, the chief scientific officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, who focuses his research on warming in the Gulf of Maine. Pershing says that the warming the Gulf of Maine is currently experiencing is unprecedented, both in its speed and temperature.
As shown in the following graphic … many native species – boreal and subarctic creatures at the southern edges of their ranges – are in retreat. Lobsters populations have been shifting northward and out to sea along our coast as they’ve abandoned Long Island Sound almost entirely. Many other commercially important bottom-dwelling fish – including cod, pollock and winter flounder – have been withdrawing from Maine and into the southwestern part of the gulf, where the bottom water is cooler.
First Published October 2015. Updated, December 2018