The Voice Of The Lobster

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

‘Tis the voice of the Lobster: I heard him declare
“You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair.”
As a duck with its eyelids, so he with his nose
Trims his belt & his buttons, & turns out his toes.

When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark,
And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark:
But, when the tide rises and Sharks are around,
His voice has a timid & tremulous sound.

Over in the Tweetiverse, someone was all boo-hoo about the eeevil effects of “climate change” that he claimed had “already occurred”. He referenced a publication from a once-noble organization that sadly has drunk the “CLIMATE EMERGENCY” koolaid, National Geographic.

So I read it, and the only thing in that, other than what “might” and “probably” and “could” occur at some uncertain time in the future, was a mention of “oceanic heatwaves” in Maine and surroundings, viz:

“The U.S. is already grappling with climate change’s heavy costs, like when a powerful ocean heatwave struck the Northeast and devastated the region’s lobster fishery.”

As a long-time commercial fisherman, that piqued my interest. So I looked to see what I could find out. Of course, over at Forbes, Priya Shukla can be counted on to repeat the latest alarmism. In this case, her article is entitled How Ocean Heatwaves Are Threatening The Gulf Of Maine.

Here’s the area that she’s discussing, on the Northeast coast up where the US meets Canada:

Figure 1. The Gulf of Maine. The state of Maine extends from between Portland and Portsmouth at the south end to Passamaquoddy Bay near the north end. You can see the deeps of the Jordan Basin off the coast of Maine.

Regarding 2018 ocean temperatures, her article said :

“The Gulf of Maine is currently experiencing its third-warmest year in 37 years, with satellite data showing that water temperatures are nearly 3 °F warmer than average – even in the depths of the Jordan Basin (which is over 600 feet deep). This anomalous warming has only been exceeded during ocean heatwaves in 2012 and 2016.  Although waters within the Gulf were only warming by one degree every two years for nearly two decades, research by Dr. Andrew Pershing, Chief Scientific Officer of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, shows that warming in the Gulf of Maine suddenly accelerated in 2004 to nearly ten times that rate so that the Gulf is now warming 99% faster than the rest of the world’s oceans.” 

OMG, everyone stand back, it’s the horrible “ocean heatwave”!

(I can’t help but note that if it was warming at one degree every two years, and it “suddenly accelerated in 2004 to nearly ten times that rate“, that would mean it was warming at five degrees F (~2.8°C) per year. That made my bad number detector go off, so I did some more research. If you go here, you can investigate that claim. The buoy out in the Jordan Deep shows that far from changing at 5°F per year, from 2004 to 2005, the peak temperature in August dropped by three degrees F. In 2006 it warmed to where it was in 2004, and after that, peak temperatures remained unchanged for the next five years until the warm year of 2012 … but I digress …)

Okay, so we’re looking for aquatic devastation in the warm-water years of 2012, 2016, and the third-warmest year, 2018. Plus we’re looking to see what happened as the Gulf of Maine waters warmed at an accelerated rate since 2004.

Next, I went to find some data bearing on the question, and you’re gonna either laugh or cry about what I found.

First, I got the total commercial landings for all ocean species in Maine. Maine is the state that has the largest border on the Gulf of Maine, so total landings in Maine are the best indicator of the health of the Gulf. Here’s that graph:

Figure 2. Total weight of all commercial fishery landings in Maine from 1964 to 2018. 

Here, you can see the horrible effects of the “ocean heatwaves” in the Gulf of Maine in 2012, 2016, and 2018. In all three cases, catches were higher than in the cooler years before and after.

Next, I looked at the lobster fishery, since the National Geographic article had claimed that “ocean heatwaves” had “devastated the region’s lobster fishery”. 

In this case, I was fortunate in that I found enough data to calculate a most important statistic, what in the study of fisheries management is called “CPUE”—Catch Per Unit Effort. 

Why is catch per unit effort important? Suppose a given year, a certain fishery catches twice as many fish as the year before. Does this reflect an increase in the numbers of fish in the ocean? Or does it just reflect twice as many boats fishing the same numbers of fish in the ocean? It’s a crucial distinction with many consequences for the management of the fishery.

Now, in different fisheries, the “unit effort” has different meanings. If it is a longline fishery, for example, they catch fish on mile-long lines with hooks dropping from them at intervals. So the “unit effort” would likely be “hook-days”, the number of hooks times the number of days that the hooks are in the water. And the CPUE would then be pounds (or kilos) caught per hook per day.

For lobsters, it’s much simpler. Each fisherman is allotted a certain number of traps that he can fish, no more than 800 traps per boat. So the unit effort is the number of traps fished, and the CPUE is pounds per trap. 

With that as prologue, here is the CPUE for the Maine lobster fishery.

Figure 3. Lobster catch per unit effort, Maine, from 1964 to 2018. 

Look at the awful outcome of the “marine heatwaves” of 2012, 2016, and 2018 on the Maine lobster fishery … they actually increased the lobster CPUE. And check out the result of the “accelerated” ocean warming since 2004 … steadily increasing lobster catch rates. I told you you’d either laugh or cry. 

I swear, they’re getting so desperate that they are simply making things up out of the whole cloth. They hear a rumor, multiply it by “EMERGENCY”, add a soupçon of “IT’S WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT” and a heaping teaspoon of “EVERYONE PANIC!!”, and write it up as if it were fact, with bonus points for using a new alarmist term like “ocean heatwave”.

They say “The truth will out”, but man, it’s taking longer than I thought …


My Perennial Request: When you comment, please quote the exact words you are discussing. I began asking this after years of people saying “Willis, you claimed X” when I’d said nothing of the sort. Quoting the exact words avoids endless misunderstandings.

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February 14, 2020 2:17 pm

Willis, thanks for quoting from”‘Tis the Voice of the Lobster” by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This is worth re-reading and makes much more sense to me about lobsters than the ravings of the Warmistas.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 14, 2020 3:18 pm

And that you have done, Willis.

The post was “interesting, educational, and fun”.


Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 14, 2020 5:02 pm

Do check into Lewis Carroll and his math work everyone. He was very good at more than writing fictional stories.

Capell Aris
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 15, 2020 12:44 am

Just a pity that graphs are seen as so boring that they have to be tarted up with background pictures.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 16, 2020 5:20 am

Thanks Willis,
I like the lobster peering over the bars in the chart. Lots of symbolism there. Perhaps Mr. Aris doesn’t like the message, subliminal or otherwise?

Bill Powers
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 16, 2020 1:24 pm

I especially loved your last paragraph Willis.

You need to write a book which parodies the insanity of the 21st Century cultural leftists. May I suggest you call it “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Planet” with the bywords: “EVERYONE PANIC!!”

Mark Broderick
February 14, 2020 2:17 pm

Great job Willis !

Political Junkie
February 14, 2020 2:18 pm

Forwarded a copy of this to Ms. Shukla.

Reply to  Political Junkie
February 14, 2020 5:42 pm

Is she any relation to the climate change thieving Jagadish Shukla?

M Courtney
February 14, 2020 2:22 pm

NOTE: The argument isn’t about “We’re all going to die” anymore.

It’s an economic argument about damage to an industry. (A fallacious argument too).
Most people recognise that the costs of Green policies are the reason to not do them, so the economics is the argument that must be won. (Honestly or not).

This retreat should be welcomed.
They are on the run.

Reply to  M Courtney
February 14, 2020 3:50 pm

well at least it’s not the ski industry any more…..we were all getting sick and tired of that one

February 14, 2020 2:26 pm

The enemy of climate alarmism is data.

And to think they claim the mantle of “science” and that we skeptics are nothing but addle-minded, bought off knuckle dragging “science deniers”.

It never changes.

February 14, 2020 2:27 pm

I don’t know, Willis, but for figure 3 if you connect the dots in 2016 and 2018 and extend the line down to the x axis, it appears somewhere around 2030 the total lobster catch goes to 0. It’s pretty obvious. And I really like lobster.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  rbabcock
February 26, 2020 5:00 am

rbabcock February 14, 2020 at 2:27 pm

I don’t know, Willis, but for figure 3 if you connect the dots in 2016 and 2018 and extend the line down to the x axis, it appears somewhere around 2030 the total lobster catch goes to 0. It’s pretty obvious. And I really like lobster.

OK. From 2016 to 2018 that’s a peak. And what goes up often comes down.

OTOH: good hint. Correct me were I’m wrong – there’s, arguable, a half sine-curve between 1960 – 2020.

– with = 2 x 11.3 / ( 6 + 1 )

– again the quasi biennial oscillation.

– with = 2 x sunspot cycle / ( 6 El Niño’s + 1 La Niña )

Bryan A
February 14, 2020 2:27 pm

Looks like the Maine Fisheries have a Peak Season once every 14 – 16 years
While Loobster just keeps going up, up, up
Best thing about the seas raising in temperatures 5F per year, in 35 years you will be able to harvest your Loobster already cooked

Reply to  Bryan A
February 15, 2020 4:43 am

LOL, Bryan – I thought of the same thing too with their silly 5 deg F heating every year … in but a few years we won’t have to worry about sea level rise, as the entire oceans would boil away!

February 14, 2020 2:29 pm

I agree with your statement that “they’re getting so desperate that they are simply making things up out of the whole cloth.”

Unfortunately even when confronted with numbers that eviscerate their claims they don’t change their minds so I am not sure how to put the brakes on this.

another fred
Reply to  Roger Caiazza
February 14, 2020 3:17 pm

“…I am not sure how to put the brakes on this.”

Like drunks and addicts, they have to hit bottom. Unfortunately, they can take us with them.

Reply to  another fred
February 14, 2020 10:35 pm

for some possible insight, look at this

Also, consider this evaluation by Thomas Jefferson as to why “facts” don’t matter
“Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the spot of every wind. With such persons, gullability, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck.” —Thomas Jefferson (1822)

It might go away with sufficient distraction but it isn’t likely to get better.

jim hogg
Reply to  Roger Caiazza
February 14, 2020 4:15 pm

Head-on collision with the facts will do it in time, with sufficient exposure. As Burns said: “Facts are chiels that winna ding.” They are kinda hard to come by admittedly, especially in relation to the future.

February 14, 2020 2:32 pm

I used to live in Bermuda where they had strict rules on the use of traps. You could get a license to dive and catch them but with no scuba equipment. Commercial fisherman could use traps in some areas. Every now and then someone would get caught for illegal trapping. The lobsters tasted fantastic.

michael hart
February 14, 2020 2:41 pm

Who know how the lobster got
Into the lobster pot
When he went in he didn’t doubt
That there would be
A way out
There was not.

One of Spike Milligan’s finest, I think.

February 14, 2020 2:41 pm

Another entry into the archive of “silly pronouncements”.
NatGeo should have its own volume by now.

February 14, 2020 2:51 pm

Although waters within the Gulf were only warming by one degree every two years for nearly two decades, research by Dr. Andrew Pershing, Chief Scientific Officer of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, shows that warming in the Gulf of Maine suddenly accelerated in 2004 to nearly ten times that rate so that the Gulf is now warming 99% faster than the rest of the world’s oceans.”

OK. One degree every two years for two decades is ten degrees. The rate is 0.5 degree per year.

Ten times that rate is 5 degrees per year. It is 16 years since 2004. The temperature would have increased 80 degrees since then for a total of 90 degrees. That’s gotta be Fahrenheit because the ocean isn’t boiling.

Ms. Shukla, you are innumerate. Somehow people are ashamed of being illiterate. On the other hand, some folks wear their innumeracy as a badge of honor. It is not. /rant

Ronald Ginzler
Reply to  commieBob
February 14, 2020 7:47 pm

Lewis Carroll beat them to it. He also wrote: “And why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.”

mike macray
Reply to  Ronald Ginzler
February 16, 2020 7:56 am

Ronald G

…and ships and shoes and sealing wax and cabbages and kings…

February 14, 2020 2:53 pm

The death of Nat Geo due to climate change is tragic

David Chappell
Reply to  Troe
February 14, 2020 6:28 pm

That’s another one for the list of what glopbal warming can do!

Abolition Man
February 14, 2020 2:55 pm

Willis, thank you for another interesting post. It’s always fascinating to see the discrepancies between the alarmist “news” and reality. It must be fun working in the fiction writing industry as the MSM and just make stuff up!
I am interested in doing some experiments on the effects of global warming on Maine lobster so I would request a couple of dozen packed in dry ice. I’d be happy to let you participate; just be sure to bring a few bottles of a nice oaky Chardonnay! Hope to hear from you soon!

Rud Istvan
February 14, 2020 2:58 pm

Great post. Simple and devastating. Great bookmarked graphics.

There is an interesting sidebar (that I have read about—seems plausible, but dunno how true). The Maine lobster catch (80% of US total) was falling in the 70s and 80s from ‘overfishing’. Maine fishermen turned to cod. Then the big cod (a bottom feeding young lobster top predator) got overfished allowing the lobster stock to more than recover to record catches and falling prices. Alas, the cod stock has still not recovered, yet.
Man, not climate change, at work in the Gulf of Maine.

Bill Treuren
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 14, 2020 6:31 pm

the story of the zebra mussel has it all in the great lakes

Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 14, 2020 3:54 pm

The dams they built just about wiped out the cod fishery….

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 14, 2020 5:06 pm

To WE and Latitude:
WUWT is like a never ending adult education course. I posted a vaguely recalled memory about Lobster abundance causation. Next thing we have not only a cod ‘proof’ but a cod ‘causation’ more complex than just overfishing.
I consider myself a now gratefully newly educated about Gulf of Maine WUWTer.

Joe Campbell
Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 15, 2020 6:15 am

Rud: Me, too. You folks are amazing…

Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 15, 2020 12:08 pm

WUWT is a many-faceted diamond of education. Thanks to one and all.

February 14, 2020 3:01 pm
February 14, 2020 3:10 pm

I wish this piece could banner the front page of the Portland Press-Herald, but alas…

Joseph Murphy
Reply to  Wharfplank
February 14, 2020 3:22 pm

Hope in one hand and ‘you know what’ in the other. See which one fills up first. I used to purchase that paper to get a chuckle from the ‘letters to the editor’ section. It is too depressing at this point and I haven’t bought it in years.

Abolition Man
February 14, 2020 3:14 pm

Willis, I was lucky enough to take up rock fishing during my college years. A friend who worked his way through law school in San Diego crewing on party boats taught me the tricks and let me use his tackle and custom-made rods until I could afford to invest in my own. That picture you posted in the previous post of the CG boat off Eureka reminded me off hopping through the “potato patch” outside the Golden Gate, on the way to the Farallons and a bagful of various rock cod and sea bass. Thanks again for the articles and the reminder of good times. When is it okay to crack a beer at 6:00AM? When the boat leaves the dock and the you’ll be at sea and fishing for the next 10-12 hours!

Joseph Murphy
February 14, 2020 3:17 pm

I live in Maine and do enjoy our lobster. The Gulf of Maine is a bit of a stand alone ocean climate. It is sheltered from the Gulf Stream by Cape Cod and Georges Bank. It is also quite deep and remains relatively cold most of the time. Sometimes Gulf Stream waters swirl into the Gulf of Maine and cause ocean temps to fluctuate up quite a bit. The point being is that ocean temps off the coast of Maine are not a particularly good indicator of whats going on in the rest of the ocean.

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  Joseph Murphy
February 14, 2020 4:51 pm

So basically, you’re saying it is the oceanic equivalent of “weather”.

This is my shocked face that the alarmists would try to turn a “weather” event into a definitive statement on climate!

halftide rock
Reply to  Joseph Murphy
February 14, 2020 5:07 pm

I am from Maine. I can confirm this observation on the Gulf Stream Eddies impacting the Gulf of Maine. I think the cycle is 4 or 5 years understanding that the Stream wiggle is entitled to a mind of it’s own. Another factor you should use is the ground fishery was squeezed out of Maine into Mass. Because Maine law says by catch of lobsters subjects the whole catch to siezure. Not so in Mass. This rule diminished landings in Maine.

February 14, 2020 3:23 pm

Isn’t volcanic activity a factor in the warmer water near Maine?

February 14, 2020 3:42 pm

One other thing I noticed the article said, “The Gulf of Maine is currently experiencing its third-warmest year in 37 years, with satellite data…” That puts the date start date about 1981, right in the range that I use a demarcation and call “BS” before satellite. It was in the period 1978-1982 that the first truly operation weather satellites were launched.

What I after see in reporting is that the starting data is from this period or later and data from BS is ignored or discounted.

nw sage
February 14, 2020 4:14 pm

after that, it is perfect.

Bemused Bill
February 14, 2020 4:25 pm

Weeks ago I was showing a few people the band of warm water at the Maine Latitude that circles the globe, same lat. at the Mediterranean etc. and appears to be caused by the magnetic shield as it is a common phenomenon and wanders about the place at all latitudes, on and off, but if you watch for it it is real, I’ve been watching it for a decade or more and quite often you have cool and hot bands alternating at all latitudes in a way that strongly suggests the mag. shield …I jokingly bet friends that they would soon be blaming global warming for the temporary band of hot water at NY… as they always do with any hot anomaly. Even though it is clearly a SST anomaly.
It is already fading and was way hotter before. You can already see cool SST waters moving into that area…I wonder if that will qualify as global cooling?
Here is a SST anomalies chart on Elders Weather which I watch and seems accurate. Note that band of hot water circling the planet…not as obvious now as it has begun to break up but still pretty damn obvious…unless you are a fucking idiot greeny. The bands are usually more obvious, its a bit jumbled right now, which is also normal, keep an eye on it. Does anyone know more about this?

February 14, 2020 4:41 pm

And speaking of Nat Geo, check out their wall map of the world that has no ice at all showing at the North Pole.

My grandies were perplexed that Santa’s home base was just all open ocean. What’s up with that?, they wanted to know.

Grandad here had to explain to them that Nat Geo had just made a mistake – there was still miles & miles of ice at the North Pole, and Santa would always have his presents warehouse there, and his stables for Donna, Blitzen, etc etc etc. (I had no clue where those elves bunk down – I just moved the tricky discussion to other topics)

And looking at Nat Geo’s depiction of an ice-free Arctic, maybe it’s no wonder that there’s a “Ship Of Fools” stuck in the (non-existent) ice up there every.single.year.

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  Mr.
February 14, 2020 4:54 pm

Surely the elves bunk down in “egloos”.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Mr.
February 14, 2020 5:56 pm

And speaking of Nat Geo, check out their wall map of the world that has no ice at all showing at the North Pole.

It would be very unusual (and cartographicaly wrong) for a map to display very variable sea ice. It is correct for a map to show the ocean at the north pole, because that’s what it is.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
February 14, 2020 7:32 pm

What it is, is – misleading.
They have no problem showing the extensive ice shelves in the Antarctic, and the sea ice extent in the Ross Sea.
IMO, NatGeo treats cartography as Al Gore predicts it to be.

Ronald Ginzler
Reply to  Mr.
February 14, 2020 8:27 pm

I used to have a Nat Geo map of the Arctic from the 1960s or ’70s. As I recall, it showed the average extent of the ice cap, either in summer or winter, or both.

As to Santa’s reindeer, it was originally Dunder, then Donner, but if it is now Donna, so be it. Has anyone examined these reindeer to ensure they have broken the glass, or maybe ice, ceiling?

February 14, 2020 4:50 pm

The alarm-ism is non stop….
A quick web look came up with this first—->
which has this narrative –data/photos –>Willis you will appreciate the data charts

“2015 was a different story. Frozen over waters prevented many lobstermen from setting traps or even getting their boats out of the harbor. The temperature of water at Beal’s Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor, Maine was a frigid 36 degrees and it was nearly May! At the same time the year before the water temperature was around 43 degrees.”

My passion for flyfishing has taken me to New England for the Martha’s Vineyard derby a time or two.
One of my favorite memories there were watching the lobstermen heading out of Menemsha Harbor
at daybreak into the fog with only a dog (chesapeake type) for company. Very dangerous
work in my view..hope to go back again in the future..where 10 wts go to die….

Jim Mundy
February 14, 2020 4:51 pm

I personally gave up on NatGeo a long time ago when they jumped on the climate alarmism bandwagon. They and the other alarmists will not, unfortunately, engage in even the simplest fact checking for any claim that supports the climate alarmist agenda; nor will they be deterred in any way by the actual presentation of facts. Their “religion” is the antithesis of true science.

February 14, 2020 4:55 pm

You researched Lobster.
You should have researched Lobsta’
No one in New England knows what a Lobster is.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
February 14, 2020 5:31 pm

Not just Lobtsa. Big adult boneless filliped Cod cooked poached In Bahston is called Scrod.
You can order Scrod with Lobtsa anywhere in Bahston. Just get extra Butta to go with the Täters

Ok. Confess I lived there for 8 years of University plus two career since before going to Munich professionally. Loved the seafood. Accents are all from now failing memory.

February 14, 2020 5:07 pm

Was there any spraying of pesticides to suppress mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus off Maine? That is suspected to cause the crash of the lobster fishery in Long Island sound beginning in 1998. Note water temperature increase was thought by fishermen not to affect lobsters.

February 14, 2020 5:29 pm

I discontinued my subscription to National Fisherman this year.

Partly because of bizarre claims similar to the one you are responding to.
Partly because they allow activists to publish screeds as if they were factual.
Partly because instead of in-depth detailed articles about commercial fishing, fishing equipment, commercial crews and commercial fishing boats; instead they publish fluff pieces, short comments about boats, usually customized boats and fishermen, er, fisherladies.

Last month, I complained about their article about the drop in fishing success in the Gulf of Maine.
Early in the article they whined about rising ocean temperatures causing fish to migrate.
Later in the same article they complained about low temperatures harming the lobster catch.

By the data you supplied above, Willis; I see National Fisherman was wrong on both accounts.

Thank you! Excellent article!

Smart Rock
February 14, 2020 5:32 pm

If you look at the actual article, there is a video that features a graph of temperature anomaly (against 1982-2011) versus year. The dots don’t fall exactly above the yearly ticks, so I’m guessing the years covered are 1982 to 2018.

The line (which I assume to be a best-fit) from 1982 to 2012 has a slope of 0.04°C/year, which equals 0.15°F per 2 years, not the 1°F per 2 years that Priya states. Interestingly, the 2018 value plots almost exactly on that linear trend, although the line is not extended past 2012.

2005 was the second-coldest year between 1982 and 2018, with an anomaly of -0.75°C. Then there’s a rapid rise to 2013 which hit +2.1°C. This is an increase of 0.35°C/year or 1.3°F per 2 years which is “nearly ten times” the average trend (Golly, she got that right!).

Then, from 2013 to 2018 there is a cooling, at an average rate of -0.2°C/year or -0.73°F per 2 years (cooling almost five times as fast as the average warming trend!!).

Of course it’s spiky data and anyone can see that at a glance. Picking a trend from the second-coldest year to the hottest year and claiming it as an acceleration is fr@udulent, especially when not mentioning the subsequent cooling.

Priya Shukla is “an ocean and climate scientist …….. currently a PhD student at the University of California, Davis“. I know educational standards aren’t up to what they were in earlier times, but her misrepresentations are so egregious that I find it hard not to believe they are deliberate fabrications.

Then it hit me – could she be related to Jagdish Shukla of George Mason University? He of the #RICO20 fame?

Perhaps she’s not related to the unlamented Jagdish. Perhaps she’s not just changing the numbers at will to make a scary story. Perhaps she’s just really, really dumb.

Reply to  Smart Rock
February 14, 2020 5:56 pm

I was wondering the same thing. It seems that Priya is not in Jagadish’s immediate family.

Abolition Man
Reply to  Smart Rock
February 14, 2020 9:08 pm

UC Davis? You mean Commie State! Right up there with the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs and the Humboldt State honeys with their Birkenstocks and unshaven armpits for the most radical campus in the once great UC system. Why would someone study ocean “science” in the middle of the Sacramento Valley?
UC Davis, where a coed back in the 70s told a flasher; “Ooooh, looks like a p&ni$ only smaller!” That was back in the day when college students were allowed to think for themselves apparently; my niece and nephews that attended Davis are all alarmists who deny any science that contradicts their beliefs. But I repeat myself.

Stuart Nachman
February 14, 2020 6:02 pm

Ah, one of my favorite subjects, lobster. How fortunate we are to enjoy this delicious shellfish.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Stuart Nachman
February 14, 2020 6:43 pm

I like lobster, but I hate lobster shells with a fury and a passion. So, my lobster consumption is at best sporadic.

February 14, 2020 7:30 pm

I did some diving in the southern Gulf of Maine in the mid 1970s doing research on kelp which is part of the algae-lobster-urchin-groundfish ecosystem. An hour at 60 feet in a wetsuit was invigorating, but I was young and having fun. The Gulf is cooled by the Labrador current the bends around Nova Scotia and circulates counter- clockwise. It has warmed in the last forty years, but probably from mixing with a warming North Atlantic, not human-cause climate change. Lobstering there is highly regulated and licensing restricted. One worry is that lobster shell disease which is becoming more common south of Cape Cod probably aided by warmer water will advance north.

Ronald Ginzler
February 14, 2020 8:27 pm

I used to have a Nat Geo map of the Arctic from the 1960s or ’70s. As I recall, it showed the average extent of the ice cap, either in summer or winter, or both.

As to Santa’s reindeer, it was originally Dunder, then Donner, but if it is now Donna, so be it. Has anyone examined these reindeer to ensure they have broken the glass, or maybe ice, ceiling?

Old Woman of the North
February 14, 2020 9:38 pm

Most interesting post Willis, and it made me go in search of Lewis Carroll’s ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ which led to other delights.

Can we go back a step, please? What is an ‘ocean heatwave’? I know pools of warmer water move in the currents around the oceans but is that a ‘heat wave’? I thought that was a natural event, occurring cyclically.

February 14, 2020 9:44 pm

Hello Willis,

I found some more interesting things about the article from Priya Shukla. To her credit (or the credit of her editor) she included many links on which she is supposed to have based her article. And to her embarrasment, she cited wrong most of what she cited.

For example, she says “the Gulf is warming 99% faster than the rest of the world’s ocean” (i.e. at twice the speed) but her reference says that “the Gulf is warming faster than 99% of the oceans” which is a completely different thing that doesn’t put numbers to the speed. Amazing what a small change in the order of the words can create.

Another thing that the article she references says, right at the top, under the photo, is the following:
“The warmer water has created ideal conditions for lobsters and contributed to an overabundance in recent years, causing prices to tumble to their lowest point in nearly two decades in Maine”

And later on, near the end, the article continues with this idea, under the header “Warming credited for overabundance of lobster“. You can see it by yourself, this is the article:

Amazing huh? How can someone read an article and get everything so incredibly wrong? The article is still somewhat alarmist, but not really alarmist about lobsters. It is alarmist about other fish species that would be departing. Lobsters are doing great.

Then there is the rate of warming since 2004. Here again she cited the article wrong. She says that the previous warming was half a degree every two years, but the article says 0.05 degrees (Fahrenheit) per year, in line with the rest of the oceans. So she has multiplied by 5 the rate of previous warming. And now the rate would be half a degree per year, which is obviously the product of calculating a trend over a too short ammount of years (2004-2018) with two of the last three years showing a heat wave. Amazing.

Reply to  Nylo
February 14, 2020 10:00 pm

Correction, she said “one degree every two years” so she multiplied by 10, not by 5, the previous warming.

Bill Parsons
Reply to  Nylo
February 15, 2020 1:05 pm

Nylo: Raising the question of why Forbes – or anyone else – would run articles by such a person. Good on you for your careful reading.

February 15, 2020 1:12 am

The lobsters are on the streets nowadays:
All dressed up in red.
Extinction rebellion.

Reply to  Lasse
February 17, 2020 8:31 am

No watermelons any longer?

Stephen Skinner
February 15, 2020 1:37 am

Oh Willis, Willis, Willis. Only a denier would stoop so low as to use facts. How dare you question climate science. It has the label ‘science’ in it.

February 15, 2020 7:48 am

Is there a good chart somewhere showing ocean temp in the Gulf of Maine going way back in time? I would find that interesting to put the “heatwaves” in a broader context.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 15, 2020 11:58 am

Thank you!

I do that and see a chart starting in 1979 from “August to October” showing declining temps.

So I confess to being confused.

Do you know why the chart seems to default to those months?

Relatedly, is there a standard ocean temp dataset that goes back farther back than 1979? I find everything in your article fascinating, and would love to couple the info in it with something showing (even estimating?) long term Gulf of Maine ocean temps. From my layman’s perspective, a big question is: how different is the temp there now vs., say, the 1950s.

Sorry to bother you about it! But maybe you have a ready answer.

D Clancy
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 16, 2020 5:58 am

Thank you. My guess is that the prevailing temp in that area is cyclical, and that we’d see peaks and valleys if we had data back to the 30s or the 50s; then the question would be how does any recent peak compare to previous ones. It is frustrating to see so many charts starting around 1980.

February 15, 2020 2:15 pm

w. ==> The interactive charts at NERACOOS site do not actually show any heatwaves in the Gulf of Maine….not in any normal sense.

NERACOOS is an acronym for “Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems” it is obvious that there have been cooler and warmer times, but the claimed heatwaves are a vast exaggeration.

The real question is: Does a 1-3 degree water temperature difference for a month or two makes a biologically important difference. At what water depth? For what species?

Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 15, 2020 2:56 pm

w. ==> The major study on this was Le Bris et al. [2018] which states : “Here we show that interactions between warming waters, ecosystem changes, and differences in conservation efforts led to the simultaneous collapse of lobster fishery in southern New England and record-breaking landings in the Gulf of Maine. ”

The difference is “we show that harvester-driven conservation efforts to protect large lobsters prepared the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery to capitalize on favorable ecosystem conditions, resulting in the record-breaking landings recently observed in the region. In contrast, in the warmer southern New England region, the absence of similar conservation efforts precipitated warming-induced recruitment failure that led to the collapse of the fishery. ”

The study shows SSTs but not temperature at the depths where lobsters live and reproduce….just an oddity. The text of the study is equally obtuse as to what temperatures they considered in their study…the text at one point says “The “temperature” simulation used constant temperatures equal to the mean of the first half of the time series (1984–1999) to evaluate the role of the recent rapid warming in the northeast United States. ”

The pertinent temperatures are bottom temperatures and near-shore bottom temperatures. Maybe they used them in their models, but they do not talk about it or chart it.

February 16, 2020 6:35 am

Not an ocean expert but temperatures in that large bay are probably more influenced by the average wind direction than the implied “global warming”. It’s well known that when winds blow onshore for long periods of time, warmer surface waters pile up and can reach impressive depths. On Lake Superior (same approximate latitude) during the summer, warmer surface water is usually just the top 20 to30 feet but last summer in August warm water was well over 100 feet deep at one location, beyond the depth we wanted to drop our temperature probe. We’ve never seen that before but it was an anomoly of sustained onshore winds. It was probably the opposite somewhere else on the lake. It probably happens once in a while too we just never had the temperature probe to know. And did it devastate the fishing nope it was the same as always, maybe a bit better.

mike macray
February 16, 2020 9:24 am

Great post Willis, bit of poetry and graphic licence added the gourmet sauce to a solid meal of seafood information…
Being untutored in matters ichtheological I wonder ’bout them graphs, the cod and lobster catches. Is there a connection between the precipitous decline in the cod catch and the simultaneous increase in lobster harvest?
A friend with marine biological knowledge way beyond my pay grade explained it thus: cod, like many schooling fish reproduce in an indiscriminate collective orgy, a sort of clusterf..renzy, to avoid using the colloquial that comes to mind. Females discharging eggs while the males dash about ejaculating their milt produces the next generation of codlets.
The survivors of the simultaneous feeding frenzy head for the sea-bed where they mature dining where possible on lobster spawn.. and who can blame them, until old enough to school. Netting the cod schools in flagrante delicto collapsed the cod population and triggered a boom in the lobster population.
Any endorsements or rebuttals of this theory would be welcome.

Linda Goodman
February 16, 2020 8:35 pm

I look forward to when brilliant Mr. Eschenbach addresses the MOTIVE for demonizing carbon dioxide. Just look up! ‘Elite’ puppeteers are pulling the strings for their eco-feudalist new world order, with an army of Useful Idiots & greedy tools. And if we don’t stop tiptoeing around them we’re screwed.

Carbon: 6 protons; 6 neutrons; 6 electrons.

Reply to  Linda Goodman
February 17, 2020 8:36 am

They love diamonds. They hate seeing them burned. And burning diamonds produces CO2.

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