Sea slugs invade California, groundhog bites Mayor

By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer

The biggest Groundhog Day celebration goes down in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Animals are definitely going nutty lately, and it all seems related to wacky weather!

When Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2nd, dozens of local rodent celebrities across the nation popped out of their holes to predict the weather. If the skies are cloudy when groundhogs come out, then spring will come early, but if it’s sunny and they see their shadow, it means six more weeks of wintry weather.

The most famous of these groundhogs is Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania, who was far better behaved than Jimmy the Groundhog of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Just seconds after coming out of his hole, Jimmy tried to put a hole in Mayor Jonathan Freund’s ear! Fortunately, the little nip didn’t stop him from announcing that Jimmy forecast an early spring.

Over the past few weeks, pink sea slugs have invaded northern California, due to warming ocean temperatures. Known as the Hopkins’ rose nudibranch sea slug, these critters look like pink Koosh Balls. They’re usually in tidepools near Los Angeles and San Diego. Now, they’re seeking colder oceans due to a lack of wind, which usually blows warmer water from the surface, creating a colder environment. The little guys are showing up in Santa Cruz and San Francisco, even though they often don’t go further north than San Luis Obispo. Dolphins, humpback whales, and sea turtles that don’t belong in the area are also being found. Scientists think these unusual weather patterns are linked to the California drought, the worst water shortage in 1,200 years. Average temperatures off the coast of California are 5 degrees hotter than usual, possibly due to climate change.

Featured image courtesy of Jerry Kirkhart on Wikipedia. Image of Punxsutawney courtesy of Aaron Silvers on Wikimedia.