Sunday, 12 February 2017

Fish and snails travelling hundreds of miles north as oceans heat up

Species are on the move across the world as rising temperatures allow some to extend there range, while others are forced to flee

Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent
Thursday 26 January 2017

Tropical fish and other marine species have been discovered hundred of miles further north in waters from California to the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic, according to a new study.

Researchers examined reports of “first sightings” of new species from around the world as part of efforts to monitor how marine creatures react to rising ocean temperatures.

A shift towards both poles is expected as a result, but some species have made remarkable journeys.

A Monrovia doctorfish was discovered in European Atlantic waters – just off the coast of Portugal – for the first time in 2013. It was more than 1,600km (about 1,000 miles) north of tropical waters.

And blue-spotted cornetfish have been found even further north in temperate waters, having spread through the sub-tropical region. 

A species of sea snail from the periwinkle family, called Echinolittorina punctate, which historically lived in the southern Mediterranean Sea, is now to be found off the south coast of France.

Writing in the journal Global Change Biology, the researchers from the UK and Australia said: “Shifts in species ranges are a global phenomenon, well known to occur in response to a changing climate. 

“New species arriving in an area may become pest species, modify ecosystem structure, or represent challenges or opportunities for fisheries and recreation.

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