Climate Science

Mass Die-Offs Continue to Threaten Marine Life

Balmy temperatures can lead to conditions perfect for the spread of infectious diseases, Sanderson said. When sea ice melts too early in the season, seal pups must enter the water before they are ready to be weaned, leaving them weaker and more vulnerable to disease. Vanishing sea ice also means that seals and sea lions in cold regions will have less space to emerge from the water to rest, breed, or escape predators, forcing them to crowd more tightly together.

Low Oxygen Levels Impact Marine Invertebrates

With rising global temperatures already lowering marine oxygen levels – to the point of producing and exacerbating coastal ‘dead zones’ – this could become a serious problem.

Many marine invertebrates – just like other animals with functional and complex eyes – depend on vision for survival. It helps them find prey, avoid predators, and locate shelter.

“Marine animals are disappearing at double the rate of land-based species”

…marine animals like fish, crabs and lobster are already more likely to be living near the threshold of life-threatening temperatures, and because in the ocean, there are fewer places to hide from extreme heat, said Malin Pinsky, lead author of a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

“These results are stunning, in part because the impacts of climate change on ocean life were virtually ignored just a decade ago,” said Pinsky, an ocean researcher at Rutgers University. The study took a close look at cold-blooded marine species whose body temperatures are dependent on their surroundings.