Droves of pickle-shaped creatures found in NW waters

A research boat caught 60,000 of them in five minutes

Pyrosomes found off the Oregon Coast range in size from a few inches to more than two feet long. (Hilarie Sorensen/University of Oregon via NOAA)
Pyrosomes found off the Oregon Coast range in size from a few inches to more than two feet long. (Hilarie Sorensen/University of Oregon via NOAA)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – An unprecedented bloom of pickle-shaped sea creatures are showing up in Pacific Northwest waters.

They’re called pyrosomes and are typically found in warmer, tropical waters. But, for the past two years, they’ve been multiplying in droves in the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

In late May, a research boat caught 60,000 of them in five minutes. This rare occurrence has resulted in problems for fisheries in the area, with Alaskan fishermen stating the blooms are so thick they’re hauling in all pyrosomes and no salmon.

Ric Brodeur of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center’s research station in Newport said he’s been working off the Oregon Coast since the 1980s and never seen a pyrosome prior to 2014, and they currently have more questions than answers.

It’s unknown what long-term effect the blooms will have but scientists are concerned a sudden die off could be catastrophic for marine life because they could sink to the seafloor and take over the oxygen as they’re decomposing, leaving a marine life dead zone in its wake.

Thousands of pyrosomes hang in the water off the Oregon Coast. (Photo by Hilarie Sorensen/University of Oregon via NOAA)
Thousands of pyrosomes hang in the water off the Oregon Coast. (Photo by Hilarie Sorensen/University of Oregon via NOAA)