Dolphins, fishes, whales, corals and other marine animals may be in danger as temperatures in oceans rise, thanks to none other than, global warming.
As temperature rises all across the globe, so does our oceans. When air temperature, our oceans absorb some of the heat and warms, too.
Compared to the 1800s, the top layer of the ocean has grown warmer at the rate of 0.2 °F every ten years.
But, many scientists were alarmed after a heat wave struck the Western Australian waters in 2011. They noticed that fewer dolphins gave birth and the warmer ocean temperatures decreased marine animals’ survival rate.
It appears like the oceans at Shark Bay rose at about four degrees above its annual average and caused dolphins’ survival rate to drop by 12%, according to a study published last week in the journal Current Biology.
The researchers studied the dolphins that lived in that particular place between 2007 and 2017, and found that the dolphin births declined drastically and lasted 10 years.
“It was serendipity really. We have been working in that part of Shark Bay since 2007, now as part of a large study,” Michael Krutzen, an author of the study and director of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Zurich, told CNN in an interview.
They have also noticed that a lot of seagrass, which provides food and protection for animals, were killed by the warmer waters.
It has been known for a very long time that warmer waters is bad for marine animals. Studies show that warmer ocean gives less oxygen, which could kill hundreds to thousands of fishes. Corals are also temperature-sensitive.
Experts say almost three-quarters of the world’s coral reefs were affected by those heat waves and the deaths of these corals will become much more common in the following years. Some fishes also tend to migrate to cooler areas and find food, so if the water is getting too warm for them, it could most probably lead to food shortages.
“There is a severe food security risk in the tropics,” Stephen Simpson, associate professor in marine biology and global change at the University of Exeter, in the United Kingdom, told CNN. “No species are already activated to temperatures warmer than the tropics, so you could see a real crash in food fish populations. And these are places where coastal nations often have no other protein in the diet other than the fish from coral reefs.”
Scientists believe that though many are trying to lessen green gas emissions, it is still likely to experience ocean heat waves. Oceans particularly absorb 93% of the Earth’s energy imbalance and it will continue to do so.
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