Water heating up fast

Fifty percent of ocean may experience marine heatwaves by September

Posted 7/12/23

As scientists around the world sound the alarm about record sea surface temperatures, a new experimental NOAA forecast system predicts that half of the global ocean may experience marine heatwave …

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Water heating up fast

Fifty percent of ocean may experience marine heatwaves by September


As scientists around the world sound the alarm about record sea surface temperatures, a new experimental NOAA forecast system predicts that half of the global ocean may experience marine heatwave conditions by the end of summer.

The surface temperatures of about 40 percent of the global ocean are already high enough to meet the criteria for a marine heatwave — a period of persistent anomalously warm ocean temperatures — which can have significant impacts on marine life as well as coastal communities and economies. We already see the impact on fish and habitat every day we fish our bays, coastal shores and ocean. The new forecast at Marine Heatwaves: NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory (PSL) projects that it will increase to 50% by September, and it could stay that way through the end of the year.   

“No doubt, we’re in hot water,” said Dillon Amaya, a PSL research scientist and a co-lead of NOAA’s June 2023 marine heatwave experimental outlook. “In our 32-year record, we have never seen such widespread marine heatwave conditions.”

“Normally we might expect only about 10 percent of the world’s oceans to be ‘hot enough’ to be considered a marine heatwave, so it’s remarkable to reach 40 or 50 percent, even with long-term warming,” Amaya said.

Marine heatwaves can disrupt ocean ecosystems and the coastal communities that rely upon them. Weeks, months, or years of unusually warm waters can cause mass die-offs of fish, marine mammals, and seabirds, disrupt food webs and fisheries, bleach corals, spur harmful algal blooms and wipe out seaweeds.

For additional information visit Global ocean roiled by marine heatwaves, with more on the way - NOAA Research.

Where’s the bite?

Tuna. “We have a strong tuna bite at Tuna Ridge. All along the north line of the Dump anglers caught both yellowfin and bluefin tuna this past week,” said Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown. “The tuna bite is exceptional, both school tuna and giant bluefin tuna. We have sold quite a few spreader bars that allow even center consoles to troll multiple spreads without outriggers getting their spreads outside the wash on both sides of the vessel,” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence. Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said, “Tuna reports were strong last week with most bites coming on the troll. SE direction off Block Island.”

Summer flounder (fluke), black sea bass and scup. Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, said, “Areas from 35-55 feet of water with some structure seem to be producing well for fluke. Fluke are also chasing sand eels so try using some chartreuse colored baits and showing smaller presentations to match. Fishing for black sea bass seems to be picking up with more keepers moving in along the shoreline and there are plenty of scup around.” 

“Fluke fishing has been very frustrating for anglers in the Bay. They have not been able to hook up with keeper fish in the Warwick Light area as well as around the Newport and Jamestown Bridges. However, the scup bite remains strong in the Bay,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside.

Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, said, “Fluke fishing south of Block Island is outstanding with a strong bite holding along the southern coastal shore. Dillion Conti, my five year old nephew (Matt Conti’s son) caught a five pound fluke fishing off the Center Wall at the Harbor of Refuge with his Dad. We have a good bite at the Block Island Wind Farm and the Hooter Buoy (off Point Judith) for black sea bass with keepers being caught off the West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge this weekend.”

“Fluke fishing is now in deeper/cooler water with a 30-inch fish caught this weekend by John Lee off Pt. Judith. And the scup fishing remains strong in the Bay and along the coast,” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.

“Striped bass fishing in Providence and Pawtucket is slow, however, anglers fishing at night are catching keeper fish. And, at the Cape Cod Canal customer Garry Morin caught above slot sized fish three days in a row with soft plastic lures by Al Gags,”  said Henault of Ocean State Tackle.

“Fishing continues to be outstanding at the Island, however, it is hard to catch a slot fish there (28 to less than 31 inches). So, if it is a keeper you want, anglers are catching them off Pt. Judith or along the costal shore and off the breachways. The back ponds are producing keepers too,” said Cahill of Snug Harbor. 

“On Saturday angler Albert Bettencourt and his son targeted striped bass off Newport and left as over 30 boats were fishing the area. They did catch two fish over slot and one slot fish in the Beavertail/Dutch Island area as a large school of bass were feeding on the surface gorging themselves on flies that were on the surface. They were finicky, not going for much and then turned on when the tide turned,” said Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle. 

O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, said, “The breachways and shore spots have been producing some fish but boaters have a bit of an edge fishing live eels out on deeper structure and out at Block Island. There is a better shore bite early of late in the day. Bass and blues have been seen blitzing on sand eels along the beaches and in the salt ponds.”

Blue crabs have been abundant at 100 Acre Cove, Barrington, said Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle. And this weekend in Apponaug Cove, Warwick, where I keep my boat, blue crabs were abundant clinging to dock piles just below the surface.

“Freshwater fishing for largemouth bass continues to be good. Most anglers are using shiners with success. Waterman Lake, Greenville, is producing for customers. Now the freshwater bite is in cooler water… shaded areas or deeper water,” said Henault at Ocean State Tackle.

Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to or visit

NOAA, Marine heatwave, fluke


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