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Scientists Study Massive Record Krill Die-Off On Coast

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File image of a krill via NOAA (sanctuaries.noaa.gov/)

File image of a krill via NOAA (sanctuaries.noaa.gov/)

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(CBS Seattle) - A new report from the Press Democrat says scientists are still puzzled as to how millions of krill died and washed ashore along 250 miles of coast from Northern California to southern Oregon last month.

The investigation so far has scientists thinking a shift in the wind may have caught the animals near the ocean surface, possibly in a mating swarm, and caused them to be swept ashore.

According to the Press Democrat, data from offshore ocean buoys showed that the wind rapidly shifted from the northwest to the southwest just before the strandings, pushing surface waters toward shore. Northwest winds push surface water offshore, triggering the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water that sustains population explosions of krill, which are in turn food for a host of ocean species, including blue whales and salmon.

Investigators say the strandings were reported from Newport, Ore. to McKinleyville in northern Humboldt County on June 16-18, making it the geographically largest krill die-off on record.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Press Democrat contributed to this report.)

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