Scientists warn of angrier sharks as oceans reach record temperature | Totally Vegan Buzz

Scientists warn of angrier sharks as oceans reach record temperature

Scientists warn of angrier sharks as oceans reach record temperature
Image: Stock Images

The sea surface temperatures have reached an average of 20.96C – beating the earlier highest of 20.95C recorded in 2016.

Scientists warn that sharks may become more aggressive as a result of the world’s oceans warming at an alarming rate.

According to Copernicus, the EU’s weather service, the sea surface temperatures have reached an average of 20.96C –  beating the previous highest of 20.95C recorded in 2016.

The broken temperature record follows a series of marine heatwaves this year including in the UK, the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Scientists were already alarmed by the rising surface temperatures of the ocean in March, but the temperatures rose to record levels in April. They are now analyzing the potential ripple effects of the heat.

According to them, the current record-breaking ocean temperatures can be attributed, at least in part, to the El Nino weather phenomenon, witnessed earlier in 2016. This natural event causes an abnormal warming of surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean. 

Samantha Burgess, from the climate monitoring service, told the BBC: “The fact that we’ve now seen the record [in August] makes me nervous about how much warmer the ocean could get between now and next March.”

Impact on sea creatures

The rising ocean temperatures are causing dramatic changes in the marine ecosystem. Sharks, although considered highly adaptable, still need specific conditions to survive.  With global warming impacting the temperatures and acidity of the oceans, the overall range suitable for the sharks has shrunk as more areas have become too hot, forcing predator and prey closer together.

According to experts, these predators can become aggressive as they become disoriented in hotter conditions.

“Sharks getting grumpy wouldn’t surprise me at all. Fish are pretty jumpy about temperature,” The University of Southampton’s Dr Simon Boxall told the Telegraph.

Survival threatened

Additionally, warming seas are pushing marine creatures to the poles, disrupting the balance of species in the ocean’s habitat, and leading to unforeseeable and harmful outcomes. Some fish species are also unable to secure new, suitable habitats, which causes their population to decline.

For instance, Dr. Katie Longo, from the Marine Stewardship Council, said: “Cod are declining in numbers. Cod feeds on tiny shrimp-like creatures called copepods, and the changing temperature can cause the copepods to breed at the wrong time for the cod larvae to feed.”

The rising ocean temperatures are even more worrying because sharks are now among the most endangered marine animals on the planet. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, 37% of the world’s shark and ray species are threatened with extinction, mainly due to overfishing, coupled with habitat loss and the climate crisis.

“If these beautiful animals were to be wiped out from our oceans, it would not only be a heartbreaking loss, it would trigger ocean imbalances with ecosystem consequences that we cannot yet imagine,” Heike Zidowitz, shark and ray expert at the World Wildlife Fund-Germany, told CNN.

Professor Helen Findlay, biological oceanographer at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, warned: “We are seeing changes already in terms of species distributions, the prevalence of harmful algae blooms popping up maybe where we would not necessarily expect them, and the species shifting from warmer southern locations up into the colder regions as well which is quite worrying.”

She added: “We are also seeing more species coming up from the south, things like European anchovy or recently examples of Mediterranean octopus coming up into our waters and that is having a knock-on impact for the fish that we catch. and consequences of economics.”

What is causing the ocean’s temperature to climb?

According to Professor Rowan Sutton, from the University of Reading and National Centre for Atmospheric Science, the primary reason for the long-term increase in ocean temperature is the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is mainly due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels.  

Describing the situation as an urgent alarm bell, he emphasized: “Ocean warming is worrying.

“The latest data on sea surface temperature from Copernicus suggests that we may not only be experiencing a record-breaking extreme event but a record-breaking one.

“And this is not just for a local temperature measurement, but for a global one, which will have far greater consequences.

“This is yet another alarm bell screaming for the most urgent measures to limit future warming and adapt to the serious changes unfolding before our very eyes.”

Burgess added: “The more we burn fossil fuels, the more excess heat is dissipated through the oceans, which means it will take longer to stabilize them and return them to where they were.”

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