June 4, 2013

Like it Hot? Fish don't

World's fish are moving to cooler waters  

Blue Crab Credit: Paleo Spirit

Fish and other sea life have been moving toward Earth's poles in search of cooler waters, part of a worldwide, decades-long migration documented for the first time by a study released Wednesday. The research, published in the journal Nature, provides more evidence of a rapidly warming planet and has broad repercussions for fish harvests around the globe.

The Pacific Northwest is seeing giant squid come up from Mexico. The British are finding more red mullet and less cod. Scandinavians are seeing swordfish come up from the Mediterranean. West Coast salmon are being forced to find more northerly rivers to spawn.
As for New England, surf clams are becoming more established here, while a processing plant in their former home base of Virginia has closed. But it also means that some iconic cold-water species, such as cod, may swim farther north or away from warmer coastal waters. Princeton fisheries researcher Malin Pinsky, who last year charted northward shifts in the populations of flounder, red hake, and lobster, offered this suggestion, only slightly tongue in cheek: New Englanders should think about adding a little Chesapeake Bay crab to their chowder.
University of British Columbia researchers found that significant numbers of 968 species of fish and invertebrates they examined moved to escape the warming waters of their original habitats. Previous studies had documented the same phenomenon in specific parts of the world's oceans. But the new study is the first to assess the migration worldwide and to look back as far as 1970, according to its authors.
The research is more confirmation that "global change is real and has been real for a long time," said Boris Worm, a professor of marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who was not part of the study. "It's not something in the distant future. It is well underway."

[Washington Post] [Boston Globe]

Post a Comment