The Heat Is Online

Tropical Fish Flourish Off Rhode Island

More Tropical Fish Sighted in Rhode Island Water

The Associated Press , Aug. 28, 2006

 

NEWPORT, R.I.  An unusually large number of tropical fish have been spotted this summer in Rhode Island waters by divers, fishermen and environmentalists.

Among the fish seen so far: juvenile orange filefish, snowy grouper and lookdowns. A local lobsterman pulled up a large trigger fish in one of his traps.

"We're always catching tropicals during the summer months, but I mean there are a lot more. Probably about double the amount," Jean Bambara, an aquarist at Save the Bay's Exploration Center in Newport, told The Providence Journal.

The fish being seen are normally found in the warm waters off the southern states, just like the Portuguese men-of-war that invaded southern New England waters earlier in the summer and the manatee that was spotted this week in Warwick and North Kingstown.

Scientists said a change in the pattern of the Gulf Stream is likely a major reason for the number of warm-water visitors this summer. The Gulf Stream moves north from Florida along the East Coast before turning east toward Europe. Scientists say the turn is usually south of Delaware, but this year it's a more north than usual.

John Torgan, baykeeper with Save the Bay, said the average water temperature of Narragansett Bay has increased three degrees over the past few decades. He said this could cause cold-water species like cod and haddock to move further north and warm-water fish to move in.

"What's different is we've seen warmer water and we're seeing an increased sighting of these rare or accidental species in Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound," Torgan said.