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Scientists Eyeing Atypical Surge In Jersey Shore Ocean Temps

By Pat Loeb

BRIGANTINE, N.J. (CBS) -- Marine scientists have identified yet another effect of this year's mild winter and early spring:  warmer than usual surface ocean temperatures along the Jersey shore.

No other ocean water on the planet undergoes as dramatic a temperature change as the New Jersey coast, according to Josh Cohut of the Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Science.  He notes that temperatures can range from the 30s in winter, occasionally rising into the 80s by August.

This year, though, temperatures are already in the upper 70s.

"Spring was about three weeks ahead of time, in terms of when we typically see that warm layer form at the surface from the warmer days and the longer days," Cohut tells KYW Newsradio, "and we're waiting to see if that effect will carry on into the summer."

Cohut says fisherman are reporting unusual fish migration patterns that may be related to the temperature, but the exact impact on fishing is not clear.

And Bob Schoelkopf, of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, in Brigantine, says they're already finding sea turtles which normally don't show up in this area for another month.

"We're very worried now that with this warm weather, we may start seeing manatees up here more than we have in past years," he said, adding that he's even on the lookout for tropical fish in South Jersey waters.

Still, for bathers at the South Jersey shore, it is "Come on in, the water's fine!"

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