Thursday, 22 August 2013

Aquatic Life Migrating to Poles as Temperatures Shift (Op-Ed)

Colin Cummings is a science intern at Oceana. This article was adapted from one that first appeared on the Oceana blog The Beacon. Cummings contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Marine life is on the move. A groundbreaking study reveals that over the last several decades, warming ocean temperatures have caused many marine species to shift closer and closer to the poles. Some types of fish and plankton are moving at a rate of 45 miles per decade, 12 times faster than terrestrial animals. As the base of the marine food web moves, people will have to follow or risk losing a resource.

"That's like moving the dinner plate to a totally different place in the ocean," said paper co-author Benjamin Halpern, a research biologist with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As populations of marine organisms head towards the poles, tropical habitats and fishing grounds grow more desolate and non-native species flood the fragile ecosystems of the polar oceans.

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