Coastal upwelling is common along the Tanzanian and Kenyan shelves during the North-East monsoon. It is caused by an intensification of the wind and leads to the cool and nutrient-rich waters being brought to the surface followed by enhanced primary production and widespread phytoplankton blooms.
This year, it appears that the upwelling is unusually strong. Animations of the near real-time remotely sensed sea surface temperature (SST), Chlorophyll and ocean currents show how the situation has developed over the last few weeks.
Partners in the SOLSTICE project at the National Oceanography Center put together a web-page describing the phenomenon, triggered by observations of deaths of moray eels on the reefs at Tiwi, on the southern Kenya coast. We don’t know if there is any association between these events, but major blooms of plankton and mantis shrimp have been made during this season in some years, and sporadic fish mortalities – so there may be a connection.
Go to this page for the detailed explanation of the upwelling, and we’ll keep this page updated with further observations.