Zooplankton decline reported in North Atlantic

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Associated Press

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 3:08 PM

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Scientists say there's a new concern with the warmer-than-usual North Atlantic — declining levels of the microscopic creatures that provide the foundation for the ocean food chain.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says springtime zooplankton off northern New England were well below average, leading to the lowest levels ever seen for the tiny but critically important organisms.

NOAA Fisheries marine scientist Kevin Friedland says the absence of the normal surge of plankton in the spring is a concern because that's when cod and haddock and many other species produce offspring.

Data from the first six months of the year also show that sea surface temperatures remain warmer than usual in the Middle Atlantic and North Atlantic. But it's about 2 degrees cooler than last year's record high.

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