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Biologists Brace For Marine Heat 'Blob' Threatening Wildlife In Pacific Waters

(KPIX 5) -- Scientists say a marine heat wave is just off shore in the cool blue waters of the Pacific. It mimics a similar phenomenon from four years ago that wreaked havoc on the ocean's ecosystems.

Emily Jeffers with the Center for Biological Diversity says it could be devastating if history repeats itself.

"We're looking at a lot of really bad things that could happen in the ocean: fish die-offs. And that has ramifications throughout the food web. We saw sea lions dead and dying on the beaches," Jeffers said.

Jeffers says we could also see sea bird die-offs, like the one that happened right here in the Bay Area. WildCare rescued more birds in just two weeks of September 2015 than it had the entire year.

Now, scientists are getting ready to see those staggering numbers again, according to Allison Hermance.

"We are preparing cages, preparing enclosures," she said. "When these birds come in, they are very emaciated and dehydrated and we are just ready for a major influx of that."

The liquid heat wave hasn't quite reached our shores, but scientists say it's slated to. With temperatures about seven degrees warmer than average, they say it could be just as deadly and far reaching as last time.

"It's our whole ecosystem, and if tourism and the fishing industries are taken into account, it's a big chunk of our economy, and it also impacts our weather," Jeffers said.

WildCare says to call them if and when injured wildlife start popping up on Bay Area beaches. They have a hotline to walk people through how to rescue sick animals and bring them in for treatment.

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