Mahi Mahi off Newport Beach

The ocean is so warm in southern California this year that mahi mahi, native to the waters off Hawaii, are being caught just a mile off Newport Beach. Deep sea fisherman have reported surface water of 83 degrees (warmer than Hawaii, and at least 10 degrees warmer than the local norm) several miles northwest of San Diego.

My normal kayak fishing routine has been disrupted, as the kelp forests south of Newport are vanishing in the heat. Instead, medium-sized semitropical schoolfish can be seen in 30 feet of water just off Crystal Cove State Beach.

This would be unusual, but not unheard of, if this were an “El Nino” year, in which ocean currents bring tropical water up here. But this is not an El Nino year. Instead, a much more unusual new weather pattern has taken hold. The local ocean is simply heating up, and not circulating. The coastal air is warm, still and, oddest of all, very humid. Totally unlike typical California weather.

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