Climate change is a cultural phenomenon which whips all types of people into an hysteria. Single generational anecdotes are taken as yet more signs of ominous changes in the climate - "I've lived here for 30/40/50/60 years and never seen anything like it" type stories relate to such a small timescale that they can give but little or no insight into long term fluctuations in our climate. Then, there is also the problem of eyewitness testimony which often cannot be relied on for recent events, let alone events of 40 or 50 years ago. The most famous example of this is the Selective Attention Test. But these stories sell papers and most scientists are eager to endorse them.
The National Geographic describe sunfish or mola as :
According to the Irish Examiner, "Ocean sunfish are uncommon but certainly not unknown in our waters, where the winter average is 10C on the south coast, and 7C on the north. However, it may be 16C along southwest coasts in August. Some scientists hold that warming seas seduce them north from tropical waters".
Every few years, an anecdote about sightings of sunfish and the connection with climate change pops up in the Irish media :
‘Irish Times’ anglers gain rare sighting of a school of sunfish (2014)
In 40 years fishing in the waters off Cobh, Co Cork, local skipper Donal Geary has never witnessed
such a spectacle as 5 sunfish swimming within six metres of his boat.
CLIMATE change was much in evidence last weekend as five sunfish (yes five) came within six metres
of our boat while fishing out from Cobh in Co Cork. Donal Geary, skipper of John Boy, said:
“In all of my 40 years of fishing these waters I have never seen such a spectacle.”
In 2007, sunfish were been tagged around Ireland and were thought to "represent a good biological indicator of climate change" :
"This research has very important implications for Ireland as a whole as sunfish may represent a good biological indicator of climatic change; that is, if sunfish sightings increase dramatically it may be a clear sign that our waters are warming and our climate is changing," said Dr Doyle.
And again from 2014, Michael Viney attributes "a recent surge in sightings" to climate change :
Climate change and the drift of jellyfish may explain a recent surge in sightings of nature’s biggest bony fish
We can see from Valentia, one of the most reliable temperature records in Ireland and Europe, that there was an increase in temperatures since the late 1980s. But there was also a similar warming during the 1890s :
The following newspaper article comes from 1899 and describes "strange visitors" to the shores of Ireland due to the hot weather :
In 1898, plans were underway to widen the Grand Canal to allow steamers export Irish food and produce to Dublin and England in faster time. The Seas around Ireland were described as teeming with fish at the time - mackerel and herring would not come as a surprise - but the papers at the time also include references to the Western coast teeming with our tropical friend - the sunfish :
The late 1940s was also a warm period. Again we get references from that time to the proliferation of sunfish on the western coast of Ireland :
The truth is that sunfish have been common in the waters around the West Coast of Ireland for at least the last 100 years and most likely much longer than that. The West Coast of Ireland benefits enormously from the North Atlantic Drift which brings warm currents from the Gulf Stream. It is this current which brings the sunfish to our waters, not climate change.
Climate alarmists have long warned that climate change will turn off this current due to more rainfall and Arctic ice melting. Thus, climate change should lead to colder, pre North Atlantic Drift, Irish seas. Therefore, if climate change is actually occurring, the numbers of sunfish along the Irish Coast should be decreasing, not increasing.
Once again, climate alarmists want to have their cake and eat it. Anything goes when under the banner of climate change - warmer, colder, rising, falling, increases, decreases etc. If Arctic Ice is melting, then surely Irish seas should be getting colder ? The proliferation of sunfish along the coasts of Ireland is due to natural processes and variations. Should we see them disappearing, then we might get worried.