Cumberland Times-News

September 28, 2013

Species migrate north as ocean temperatures become warmer


Cumberland Times-News

— PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Fish commonly found in warm ocean waters to the south have become more common in New England as ocean temperatures rise.

Over the past two years, fishermen in southern New England have seen an increase in croaker, cobia and spot, species more commonly found in waters off the mid-Atlantic. Certain types of skates and blue crabs are also becoming more numerous, fishermen say.

In the colder Gulf of Maine waters north of Cape Cod, black sea bass have become more prevalent the past two summers. Longfin squid, which are found primarily south of Cape Cod, were present in Maine waters during the 2012 summer, resulting in new fisheries and markets being developed for the season.

Before last year, lobster fisherman David Cousens of South Thomaston, Maine, had seen only one ocean sunfish in nearly 40 years of pulling traps. This summer he’s seen a bunch of them, sometimes days in a row.

Cousens even found some sea horses in his traps last summer. Scientists say there have also been reports of triggerfish and filefish — colorful species that look more suited to an aquarium — and juvenile snowy grouper, which is normally found in the Caribbean or off the southern U.S.

“There’s no question the Gulf of Maine is changing rapidly,” Cousens said. “Stuff you’ve never seen in your lifetime that you would think would take 200 or 300 years to slowly change has happened in the past 20 or 30 years — the last 10 years, really.