Bizarre Environmental Trends: Pink Slugs, Jelly Lakes and Sick Butterflies

In California, the Hopkins’ Rose nudibranch (sea slug) has a population that correlates to ocean temperatures. But lately, these spiny, hot pink little blobs have experienced a rise in numbers and been found in northern waters outside their normal habitats. The nudibranchs favor warm water, and the water’s getting warmer thanks to a number of different causes.

As I’ve seen from Lee G. Lovett’s trips to California, the beaches enjoy warm and lively waters. However, some regions suffer water that barely sustains life at all. Thanks to acid precipitation killing fish and destroying calcium all over North America, many lakes now play host to jelly-coated organisms with low calcium requirements and resistance to acid.

In the air a literal butterfly effect has taken place among monarchs. These beautiful lepidopterans migrate annually to breed amongst milkweed plants. But a combination of decreased annual milkweed and increased tropical milkweed in home gardens have stalled migratory patterns.

Lacking the struggle of travel, weaker specimens stick around in the gene pool and all those butterflies congregating in one place turn a butterfly breeding ground into a haven for parasites. Sedentary monarchs suffer infections at five times the rate as their traveling counterparts.