Blog Tags: Warming Oceans
Marine life is on the move. A groundbreaking study shows that over the last several decades as a result of warming ocean temperatures, many marine species are shifting closer and closer to the poles. Some types of fish and plankton are moving at a rate of 45 miles per decade. This is 12 times faster than terrestrial animals. As the base of the marine food web shifts toward the poles, larger animals are following as well, including people.
Puffins are rightfully dubbed the “clowns of the ocean” from their animated appearance, but sadly, they might instead serve as the “canary in a coal mine” warning us about climate change threats to the ocean.
The ocean is warming up in the Gulf of Maine from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia where ocean temperatures have hit a 150-year high, and these abnormally warm waters are altering marine food webs. Many fish species are moving into deeper and colder waters, and some are being replaced by fish from the south.
Guest blogger Jon Bowermaster is a writer and filmmaker. In this post, Jon reports from the Maldives on the effects of climate change -- and marine protection -- on the country's waters.
There are few places on the planet as remote as the Maldives. Landfall is a thousand miles away from much of the long string of 1,200 islands, most of which are little more than thin, uninhabited strips of sand. Diving into the heart of a Maldivian lagoon, it is easy to imagine you are alone in a distant paradise.
Yet when I did just that a few days ago, in the heart of the Baa Atoll — 463 square miles of aquamarine Indian Ocean recently named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve — something didn’t feel, or look, quite like paradise.
The ocean, though jaw-droppingly beautiful, was a bathtub warm 86 degrees F. Diving to its shallow floor it was quickly clear that the realm below sea level here has been badly impacted in recent years by a combination of man and Mother Nature and resulting fast-warming temperatures.
The coral reefs of the Maldives were first badly damaged in 1998, when shifting ocean patterns associated with El Niño raised sea level temps above 90 degrees. The result then was that 70 to 90 percent of the reefs surrounding the Maldives 26 atolls were badly “bleached,” the warm temperatures killing off the symbiotic algae that lives within the coral and gives it color.
While since then many of the reefs have been recovering, according to a report by the Maldives-based Marine Research Center, another warming last year (2010) estimated that “10-15 percent of shallow reef coral is now completely white, while 50-70 percent has begun to pale.”
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