Sardine seiner boats are reportedly coming home early after their annual fishing season netted nothing in several months of looking.
While those who share close quarters with sardine eaters might not be mourning the disappearance of the odorous fish, their absence is worrying.
This comes less than a month after local oceanographers began scratching their heads about a mass die-off of sea stars in Howe Sound off West Vancouver.
The oceans and the webs of life they support are unimaginably complex and even the most accomplished marine scientists will tell you we only know a fraction of what there is to know about the deep blue. It is entirely possible that these are innocuous, naturally occurring phenomena, but our instincts - or guilty consciences - tell us otherwise. What a catastrophe it would be if the Pacific "dead zone" off the California coast were to extend north to B.C. waters.
A healthy future for the Earth's oceans likely depends on the outcome of a tugof-war between conservation efforts and industry. At best, you could say we are giving the oceans mixed messages. We're willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up our local wastewater output into Burrard Inlet, but at the same time we're minimizing or ignoring the human contribution to climate change.
Science is only just beginning to measure the effect that temperature change in the world's oceans has on weather patterns. But because our knowledge is incomplete, the modelling based on it is easy to dismiss by, say, a government more focused on the extraction and sale of carbon fuels.
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