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Wild Pacific creatures in danger due to drastic climate change

Dave Masko's picture

While the most watched “Wild Pacific” episode is about sharks - with some saying they can’t get “enough shark” – tonight’s three episodes focus on Pacific sea creature survival in the wake of climate change.

Drive down the Pacific Coast Highway – on the very edge of the west coast in Oregon – and you may first smell a sharp, piercing odor of hundreds of Pacific sea lions sun-bathing on the side of a cliff; while the sustained whine of these massive Pacific Ocean creatures touches your ears like an ambulance siren or even a warning. Thus, the Animal Planet import “Wild Pacific” – that’s called “South Pacific” back in England on the BBC – features remote locations around the Pacific Ocean that are both entertaining and frightful in this nature documentary series that features three hour-long episodes back-to-back tonight starting at 8/7c on the Animal Planet Network. The Sept. 11 airing of “Wild Pacific” includes an episode about “volcanic islands and the creatures that inhabit them,” the “origins of species that live on Pacific Islands,” and an episode about how the Pacific Ocean food chain is in danger due to global warming.

However, what really seems to get a viewer’s attention is the massive Great White Shark or any shark really, with Wild Pacific sharing such views on YouTube, as this BBC nature series did recently with video of big Pacific Ocean wave surfers fighting massive El Nino waves that are blamed, in part, on climate change worldwide.

El Nino stirring things up in the Pacific

Oregon Parks officials commenting on the loud noises coming from hundreds of Pacific Sea Lions – that seem to be screaming as they bask in the sun along west coast sea cliffs – note that both coasts of the U.S. are now being impacted by climate change; with experts saying Pacific's sea creatures already show "danger signs" that they are not adapting to massive climate change.

For instance, the “Wild Pacific” documentary series on Animal Planet referenced a recent paper published in the respected journal “Nature” that found climate change is behind the shift from “El Nino to El Nino Modoki.”

In turn, the latest paper in “Nature Geoscience” also presents evidence that El Nino Modoki “drives a climate patter known as the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation. "We've found that El Nino Modoki is responsible for changes in the NPGO,"said Emanuele Di Lorenzo, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "The reason this is important is because the NPGO has significant effects on fish stocks and ocean nutrient distributions in the Pacific, especially along the west coast of the United States."

Moreover, tonight’s three episodes of “Wild Pacific” add to this documentary series on how Pacific Ocean creatures – such as the Pacific Sea Lion – are now trying to adapt to the climate change conditions throughout the Pacific Ocean; including changes in such natural conditions as sea depths, currents and winds.

Voice of America reaches out to the Pacific

At the same time the “Wild Pacific” documentary series is exploring climate changes in the massive Pacific Ocean, "Voice of America" reported last month how “the annual Pacific Islands Forum” is now focusing more on “climate change.”

Highlighting the growing importance of the forum was the participation of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; whose office stated that this recent August gathering of the Pacific Islands Forum was “the most important diplomatic visit since Britain’s Queen Elizabeth came to the Cook Islands in 1974,” stated Voice of America.

In turn, Derek Fox, a spokesman for the annual Forum, told Voice of America that “issues include climate change and management of the Pacific Ocean” were discussed by Pacific region leaders and their representatives.

For countries like Tuvalu, “where the highest point is just 4.6 meters above sea level, aid for coping with climate change is fundamental. Many here believe climate change has also contributed to shifts in tidal patterns that have resulted in erosion of the islands,” added the Voice of America report; while also pointing to Kora Kora - a local politician and former Mayor of Manahiki – who said “one of the small Cook Islands that sits just four meters above sea level and lies about 1,000 kilometers north of Rarotonga. He says climate change is the biggest single everyday issue for the people of the Cook Islands and has resulted in a significant shift in migration patterns.”

“We’ve lost most of our little islands that is in our lagoon, there’s no longer any soil or gravel on the top, now it’s all submerged under water. Since 1997 when we had a big cyclone now our population back then was round 580 and up to now it’s down to 260 people on the island, so yes indeed it’s a big issue to talk about climate change,” stated Kora.

Wild Pacific is both education and entertainment

While fans of ocean TV shows expect to see sharks and other sea creatures biting someone or doing other crazy stuff, this British import documentary series “Wild Pacific” aims for more than just entertainment, states narrator Mike Rowe.

For instance, the opening episode of a recent Wild Pacific program on Animal Planet featured an overview of natural history of the region; while also introducing some of the climate change themes that are also explored during the Sept. 11 marathon airing of three Wild Pacific episodes back-to-back.

Also, Wild Pacific explains to viewers how this mighty ocean covers a vast area with sea lions, penguins, sharks and the world’s largest terrestrial invertebrates, as they are filmed massing at night in the cold Pacific waters feeding on coconuts.

Overall, the Animal Planet documentary series “Wild Pacific” is about an ocean of extremes, from clear tropical waters and birds of paradise to icebergs, penguins and raging storms. And, as its host Mike Rowe likes to point out, the show is also the story of the people that live there in the Pacific region who, sadly, are now having to deal with climate change that continues to impact all of the Pacific on a massive scale.

Image source of the “Wild Pacific” and hundreds of Pacific Sea Lions basking in the sun during late afternoon Sept. 10 on the very edge of the west coast along the central Oregon coast. Photo by Dave Masko

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