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A massive marine heat wave that caused record warming of the ocean waters off the Pacific Coast five years ago, causing fisheries to crash and malnourished sea lions to appear on beaches across California and other Pacific states, is back, scientists said Thursday.

The ocean phenomenon, which researchers called “The Blob” when it appeared in 2014 and 2015, sent ocean waters to record temperatures. The event was believed to have been caused by changes in wind patterns that limited the extent to which cold water in the deeper waters could move to the surface.

The current expanse of warm water stretches from Alaska to Southern California, and appears similar to conditions five years ago when they were first taking shape, federal scientists said.

“Its on a trajectory to be as strong as the prior event,” said Andrew Leising, a research scientist at NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla. “Already, on its own, it is one of the most significant events that weve seen.”

Water temperatures off California and other parts of the West Coast are at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal. The trend has been developing for several months, scientists say.

Five years ago, the waters off the California coast warmed to up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than normal. Major changes in ocean life followed.

Humpback whales began feeding much closer to the coast, affording people amazing views of the animals but putting the whales in grRead More – Source