Hallelujah, it’s raining fish (anchovies, to be exact)

  • The anchovy population is spawning and their numbers have been unusually high since 2020.
  • Seabirds feast, eat the fish until it’s stuffed, then deposit their unwanted food in random places.
  • Researchers believe this is a temporary phenomenon, due to the unusually high population of anchovies.

    San Francisco owners said they heard loud splash on their rooftops and driveways over the past few weeks. In a bizarre twist, when they went out to investigate, they found… anchovies.

    That’s not a abnormal storm surge which scoops fish out of the bay and drops them elsewhere, as happens to frogs, insects, or even fish under certain circumstances. (Like the frogs that were swept away by a tornado from their aquatic home in 1873 and transported to Kansas City, where they stumbled upon shocked residents as the wind cleared.) And it’s not a challenge to throw TikTok sardines, as a San Franciscan supposes. in a Reddit post from the beginning of this month.

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    Instead, the anchovy population in the San Francisco Bay Area exploded. So many three- to five-inch-long silverfish swarm the waters that the seagulls are apparently too full to continue feasting. So even though they keep greedily grabbing more fish in their beaks, the birds decide mid-flight that they just can’t take another bite and release them in random places, much to their amusement and disgust. local residents.

    “From Half Moon Bay to Point Reyes, people tell me they’ve never seen such thick bait,” said Larry Collins, president of the San Francisco Community Fishing Association. SFGATE this week. “Last week I heard stories of guys saying that the water there was just covered with thousands of birds, and the birds were just sitting on the water with anchovies in their mouths because ‘they couldn’t eat anymore.

    Some of the offenders are pelicans, which normally dive to fish but can now simply descend to the surface of the water and sink prodigious bites into their trough-like beaks. They are also responsible for dropping fish on city property, said Whitney Grover, acting assistant director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society. SFGATE.

    Jim Ervin, a retired lab analyst with the San Jose Department of Environmental Services, recorded the unusually high number of anchovies June 11, writing that “the monthly totals in April and May were 29 and 52 respectively. The total number jumped to over 2,600 for the June trawls. Only the January catches were higher, at 2,934, he wrote in his blog post for the University of California, Davis’s Otolith Geochemistry & Fish Ecology Laboratory.

    Michael Allen SieboldGetty Images

    The most likely theory for the high numbers of anchovies closer to the surface is that they were spawning, Ervin says. This is peak anchovy spawning season in the Bay Area. “We are experiencing a very large increase in the anchovy population from 2020 to today,” he writes. Juvenile anchovy numbers were high as early as January 2021, so it makes sense that there are plenty of adults spawning now. Plus, they were heading for their own feast, likely a recent surge in microscopic zooplankton, he adds in his blog post.

    Currently, nutrient-rich water rises from the depths of the ocean in a natural upwelling pattern, in which cold water replaces warmer water at the surface, Adam Ratner said, associate director of conservation education at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. SFGATE. “Water temperatures currently appear colder than normal, which has provided much-needed food for animals such as anchovies, seabirds and marine mammals,” Ratner said. While climate change may make the water warmer in the long term, normal cold sustains “fishing communities, migrating whales and our local sea lions”, he added.

    So what to do with all that extra fish? Maybe seafood restaurants can offer more anchovy dishes. If you live in the Bay Area, it’s probably best to partake in the bounty at a restaurant and not try the free samples falling from the sky.

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