CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON MARINE LIFE

Sometimes it’s surprising on how self-centered we humans can be. We are so concerned about our future; we forget to think about others present. When I say others, I mean Marine life.

We all are aware about changing climate and how it is affecting our lifestyle. We all are also aware that these are results of our own actions.

But we close our eyes towards the living being who are suffering because of our actions.

Much attention has been focused on the effects of climate change on forests, farms, freshwater sources and the economy. But what about the ocean?

This June, the world’s oceans reached 17 degrees Celsius, their highest average temperature since record keeping for these data began in the 19th century. And a new experiment suggests that those balmier waters might mean big changes for the marine food chain.

Even with its vast capacity to absorb heat and carbon dioxide, the physical impacts of climate change on the ocean are now very clear and dramatic. According to a 2013 report, temperatures in the shallowest waters rose by more than 0.1 degree Celsius (0.18 degree Fahrenheit) each decade between 1970 and 2010.

Most marine species and ecosystems are presently under numerous simultaneous threats. In addition to climate change, these include fishing, elevated UV exposure, pollution, alien introductions and disease. The resistance of individual species to single threats may be reduced in the face of multiple stressors, and perturbed ecosystems suffer diversity loss that can compromise ecosystem function and resistance to further change. For instance, drops in pH may interfere with ion exchange, depressing metabolism and leading to a narrower window of thermal tolerance. Polar bears are not only struggling in the face of ice loss, but are also weakened by accumulation of polychlorinated biphenyls; the Black Sea suffered a regime shift after prolonged heavy fishing pressure, a jellyfish invasion and eutrophication; many coral reefs are suffering from rising temperatures, acidification, disease, fishing and tourist impact as well as silting and excess nutrients from river runoff. Analysis of several north Atlantic fish stocks suggests that declining recruitment is climatically-driven, and that fishing on its own cannot explain observed downward trends. The claim that “climate findings let fishermen off the hook” does not, however, tell the whole story, and excessive fishing will certainly not assist ecosystems stressed by climate change. There is growing acceptance of the requirement for an ecosystem approach to marine fisheries and environment management: this approach should take account of the whole gamut of anthropogenic and natural threats to ecosystems, including climate change.

The changing climate and its effect on marine life have a direct impact on us. As coral reefs die, we will lose an entire ecological habitat of fish. According to the World Wildlife Fund, a small increase of two degrees Celsius would destroy almost all existing coral reefs. Additionally, ocean circulation changes due to warming would have disastrous impacts on marine fisheries.

This drastic impact is often hard to imagine. It can only be related to a similar historical event. Fifty-five million years ago, ocean acidification led to a mass extinction of ocean creatures.

According to our fossil record, it took more than 100,000 years for the oceans to recover. Eliminating the use of greenhouse gasses and protecting our oceans will prevent this from reoccurring.