California Current: Overview

The California Current ocean ecosystem is one of the most productive and diverse temperate marine ecosystems in the world. 

This large marine ecosystem is defined by the predominant ocean current that moves south along the western coast of North America, starting off the coast of southern British Columbia and ending off the coast of southern Baja California.

The movement of northern waters southward makes the coastal waters cooler than areas of similar latitude on the U.S. east coast. Prevailing northwesterly winds cause an upwelling of colder sub-surface waters, which further cools the already cool California Current.

The upwelling brings nutrient-rich sediments to the surface, sparking large blooms of phytoplankton supporting tiny krill to large populations of whales, seabirds and commercial and recreationally important fish such as salmon and rockfish.