Petey tries again and again, but he never manages it. For weeks, his parents kept bringing him butterfish, and he kept struggling. Eventually, he began moving less and less. On July 20, Petey expired in front of a live audience.
They’re small and sweet, beloved by locals and tourists alike, and will soon be indefinitely unavailable. The northern shrimp population in the Gulf of Maine has officially collapsed and a moratorium on shrimping is being recommended for the 2014 season. Restaurants in Maine are rushing to get their hands on whatever is left over from last year’s catch.
Northern shrimp harvested in the Gulf of Maine.
Northern shrimp have been a small but economically important fishery in the Gulf of Maine. Much warmer than normal water temperatures in the gulf of Maine have caused this northern shrimp fishery to collapse.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission announced the news Tuesday after voting unanimously to halt shrimping for the upcoming season.
The Gulf of Maine Northern shrimp fishery has never been big. But the season, usually between December and May, helps make ends meet for Maine fisherman during otherwise difficult winter months, before the lobsters and tourists arrive. In 2012, the value of the Gulf catch was about $5.1 million. Historically, as much as 25 million pounds of shrimp have been caught in the Gulf of Maine. The last time the fishery had to shut down, way back in 1977, just 1 million pounds of shrimp were landed. Regulators closed the fishery the following year, and since then, shrimp populations have rebounded to record highs.
The problem looks bleaker this time around. The annual shrimp survey in 2012 revealed the lowest abundance of adults ever recorded in the survey’s thirty-year history.
“I think everyone was startled by what we saw in 2012, and there was a lot of pressure to close down the fishery for the 2013 season,” said John Annala, Chief Scientific Officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. “The survey this summer found just 20 percent of the 2012 record low, so it has fallen off incredibly sharply.”
Perhaps most worrying is the fact that juvenile shrimp have not been picked up in a survey since 2010. Northern shrimp live about five years, so the lack of younger shrimp for three years straight may mean empty nets for years to come.
“During the last ten years the water temperature in the Gulf of Maine has been running about 2.5 degrees Celsius or about 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the previous one hundred year average,” Annala said. “We don’t know what the thermal threshold of this species is, but the Gulf of Maine has always been the southernmost extreme of their range, so we probably don’t have much wiggle room.”
Gulf of Maine water temperatures were ~ 5°F to 8°F above normal on Nov. 1 2014
Sea surface temperatures in the north Atlantic are 1.53 Celsius - almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit - above normal on Nov.1, 2014.
The surface temperature of the North Atlantic ocean was 2.75 °F (1.53 Celsius) above normal on Nov. 1 2014.
FRIENDSHIP, Maine (AP) — Imagine Cape Cod without cod. Maine without lobster. The region's famous rocky beaches invisible, obscured by constant high waters.
It's already starting to happen. The culprit is the warming seas — and in particular the Gulf of Maine, whose waters are heating up faster than 99 percent of the world's oceans, scientists say.

Long-established species of commercial fish, like cod, herring and northern shrimp, are departing for colder waters. Black sea bass, blue crabs and new species of squid — all highly unusual for the Gulf — are turning up in fishermen's nets.
North Atlantic waters, which have been stunningly warm this summer and fall, were 2.75°F above normal on the first of November. The waters off the coast of New England and Canada's maritime provinces are among the most rapidly warming waters on earth. This extreme warmth is causing the very productive cold water ecosystem of the Gulf of Maine to collapse.
The United States Navy makes detailed maps of warming Atlantic temperatures. Every New England fisherman knows what's in their nets. And they know that they aren't catching cold water species like herring and cod that they used to catch. They know that they are not bringing in northern shrimp because northern shrimp require cold water to breed. They know that the waters are warming. Scientists at the University of Maine, Johns Hopkins University and Woods Hole all have strong evidence of warming waters. The U.S. Navy has the most powerful evidence of all of what's causing the waters to warm.  I am gobsmacked by the stunningly disingenuous debate performance of Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker. If Mr. Baker had actually talked to fishermen, if he had talked to university scientists, if he had read local newspapers, he would know damn well that rapidly warming waters were devastating New England fisheries. Government regulators are desperately attempting to save the fisheries from oblivion. Does Mr. Baker dispute the expertise and honesty of the United States Navy on measuring and modelling water temperatures, and ocean currents and eddies? [This is what climate change denial gets them -- and then they have the audacity to blame the federal government.]

The U.S. Navy's data show that northern wall of the Gulf Stream is north of normal and warmer than normal on October 31, 2014. Warm eddies spinning off the Gulf Stream are devastating the northern shrimp harvest this fall in the Gulf of Maine and have been for the past 3 years.
The U.S. Navy map of the Gulf Stream region of the north Atlantic shows the Gulf Stream is north of its normal path and that water temperatures are much above normal. Warm eddies spinning off the Gulf Stream have warmed waters off of Canada and New England to record levels. These warm eddies are devastating cold water fisheries in the Gulf of Maine.
I have converted a navy HYCOM model GIF movie of 2014 water temperatures in the Gulf Stream region to a Youtube video (so that it doesn't autoplay). This movie clearly shows warm Gulf Stream eddies spinning into the Gulf of Maine from late spring to early fall. These warm eddies are destroying the cold water ecosystem and the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine. Make sure you view the video below on the highest resolution settings. At high resolution you can see the stunning warming caused by the eddies bleeding warm water into the coastal currents that used to carry very cold water that originated from the Labrador current.

Would you please share this story? I think it shows how devastating climate change is today. I have left out the story of how these deep warm waters north of where they used to be made Hurricane Sandy so intense. Without the much warmer than normal water Sandy would not have had the fuel to be so powerful so late in the year. Likewise, this year's strongest hurricane, Gonzalo, remained a hurricane stunningly far north because of the northward push of the Gulf Stream. Rapidly warming waters are causing devastation at this very moment. The U.S. Navy isn't lying about warming waters.