Never-before-seen phenomenon in Alaska waters: Tropical pyrosomes invasion in such densities that they clog fishing gear

Researchers at NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center are reporting a never-before-seen phenomenon in Alaska waters.

Pyrosomes, strange creatures normally living in tropical waters, are invading Alaskan waters in such high densities that the organisms clogged fishing gear.

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Researchers at NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center are reporting a never-before-seen phenomenon in Alaska waters: pyrosome invasion

These jelly-like organisms are pyrosomes and typically live in tropical waters around the world. But no one has ever recorded pyrosomes as far north as Alaska – although they appeared along the West Coast last summer.

Fishermen first observed pyrosomes in Alaska in early February in such high densities that the organisms clogged their fishing gear.

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Map of pyrosomescaught along the coast of Alaska. via NOAA

Pyrosomes have been detected throughout the year from Kodiak to the offshore waters of southeastern Alaska.

This underwater video shows pyrosomes – 1 inch to more than 2 feet – in extremely high densities off the Oregon coast:

Was this just an unusual year—a unique phenomenon—or does this reflect a lasting change that could have food web implications?

At this point, there are more questions than answers.

“Since 1984, this is our first encounter with pyrosomes in the Gulf,said Wayne Palsson, Alaska Fisheries Science Center lead for the Gulf of Alaska survey team.

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