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Brief Thoughts on Ocean Warming

Clown Anemone FishAccording to The Conversation oceanic warming is leading to changes in marine life distribution and spawning patterns. While there are people who still hold onto a disbelief in climate change science, there is clear evidence from the oceans, nature’s power house that things are indeed changing.

As temperatures warm, marine species are shifting their geographic distribution toward the poles.

For those of us who dive in temperate waters, this might at first sound interesting – maybe we will get an opportunity to dive with species that have traditionally been associated with sub-tropical and tropical waters, closer to home. But given that the coral reef ecosystems that support much of this life take decades, if not centuries, to grow there probably won’t be suitable habitats to support the marine life on the scale it needs to exist at.

Essentially, these findings indicate we are seeing widespread reorganisation of marine ecosystems, with probable significant repercussions for the services these ecosystems provide to humans. For example, small fish of southern origin are increasing in the North Sea but concurrent declines of large-bodied, cold-water commercial species are likely to result in social and economic impacts.

Fish supply the greatest percentage of the world’s protein consumed by humans. The impact is likely to be felt most in countries with the lowest GDP. A September 2012 report by Oceana found that losses of up to 40 percent of catch potential can be expected in the tropics.

There are many wonderful initiatives to improve our carbon footprint. Energy efficient lightbulbs, hybrid vehicles and carbon credits are all critically important. But I wonder sometimes if the oceans are the proverbial elephant in the room that few want to talk about when it comes to environmental protection.

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