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Records of Mexican Barracuda, Sphyraena ensis, and Scalloped Hammerhead, Sphyrna lewini, from Southern California Associated with Elevated Water Temperatures





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During the 1997-98 El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), abnormally warm coastal waters occurred off southern California. Based on satellite imagery, the highest sea surface temperature anomalies recorded in southern California during this event were between 3 and 4°C. Monthly mean sea surface temperatures, recorded at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO) pier between 1916 and 1994, ranged from 14 to 21°C. Monthly mean sea bottom temperatures, also recorded at the SIO pier at a depth of 5 m between 1926 and 1994, ranged from 14 to 19°C. During previous warm water years, investigators documented changes in the ichthyofauna along the Pacific Coast (e.g., Hubbs and Schultz 1929; Walford 1931; Brooks 1987; Lea and Rosenblatt 1992; Lea and Walker 1995). I report here on two species of fish that were present off southern California correlated with elevated water temperatures generated by the 1997-1998 ENSO and by an anthropogenic source.