What are the Effects of the Warmer Oceans?

What are the Effects of the Warmer Oceans - Merchant Navy - Blog

In recent decades, ocean temperatures have been rising as climate change begins to impact the maritime industry around the world. Businesses have had to adapt to change and reprioritize to ensure their practices don’t contribute to the problem. However, rising water temperatures are also creating problems for fish and other wildlife. Let’s take a look at how rising Ocean Warming are affecting marine life.

Increasing Dead Zones 

One of the most alarming effects of ocean warming on marine life is the increase in dead zones. As ocean temperatures increase, oxygen levels in the water decrease. Therefore, it becomes even more difficult for marine life to survive in such conditions. Eutrophication also occurs, when water contains too many nutrients.

These dead zones are mature for cyanobacteria, which can pose a hazard to humans if they come into contact with these blooms. Experts say cyanobacteria can cause eye irritation rashes and cause nausea. Additionally, once these creatures enter the ocean, they can be deadly to marine wildlife and pets.

Cyanobacterial growth is an example of algal blooms in the world’s oceans. This phenomenon occurs when the concentration of algae in the ocean increases, often causing red tide. Rising ocean temperatures create ideal conditions for algae to grow on the ocean surface, harming marine predators and prey.

There are 415 dead zones in the world, and as the Earth’s surface temperature increases, the dead zones will increase rapidly. Experts say there were ten recorded dead zones around the world in 1960, which had increased to more than 169 by 2007, indicating rapid changes in coastal waters.

Habitat at risk 

Fish depend on their habitat to survive, and the effects of ocean warming on marine life are causing ocean degradation and uninhabitable areas. For example, rising ocean temperatures are bleaching corals and making invertebrates more susceptible to disease. Many animals depend on corals for food, reproduction, and shelter, so habitat destruction causes them distress.

Corals aren’t just beautiful when snorkeling in Hawaii. If this species collapses, large parts of the ocean will be at risk of extinction. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology says corals are connected to about 25% of all known marine wildlife, and there will be major ramifications.

Lost corals can also harm people, as people depend on corals in many ways. This species lives on the coast, providing protection from strong waves and storms. Health experts use it as a calcium supplement and to treat cancer, making it medically essential.

Hazardous Acid Levels 

Industrialization has increased carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, resulting in higher concentrations in public waters. In recent centuries, the ocean has absorbed large amounts of carbon dioxide, causing changes in acidity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it found that acidity increased by 30 percent and pH decreased by 0.1 units, respectively.

This change affected the skeletons of shellfish and corals, negatively impacting marine life. Hard-shelled species like oysters rely on calcium carbonate to form this external protection. However, this structure is more difficult because fewer carbonate ions are available for calcification. As ocean pH drops, existing oysters may suffer shell damage.

Algae blooms also contribute to lower ocean pH. Increased acidity means they appear faster in the water, and when harmful species multiply, they have a detrimental effect. Algae can control pollution and produce energy, but this type of water is too harmful to long-term sustainability.

Wildlife Hiking 

What happens when fish habitat becomes dangerous due to rising ocean temperatures? They move to areas where they have a better chance of survival. For example, salmon rely on cold seawater due to its high oxygen concentration. Hot water is less livable and increases the risk of death. Experts say water temperatures above 15 degrees cause salmon to develop rapidly, increasing the risk of defects and death.

Marine life that depends on cold waters has gradually migrated north in search of more suitable environments. However, migration is not always successful. Rising ocean temperatures are impacting breeding grounds and breeding seasons, putting the survival of some animals at risk.

When species leave an area, the balance of aquaculture changes significantly. Suppose a predatory fish moves to a new area to better survive. Without natural prey, the existence of predators suddenly becomes difficult unless they find a sustainable food source. Although they seem like small changes, these changes have a big impact on the ocean as a whole.

Increased Stress 

When migrating, some marine organisms often endure increased stress due to rising ocean temperatures. As water temperatures increase, physiological stress on residents increases as they find available habitat and oxygen levels decrease.

Stress has a severe impact on salmon, endangering their long-term survival. A 2021 study in General and Comparative Endocrinology found that repeated stress suppresses growth and leads to reduced weight gain. When Atlantic salmon are stressed, they expend more energy and, therefore, have lower serum creatinine levels. For now, experts don’t expect this problem to improve.

In his 2020 study published in the Journal of Fish Biology, he says global ocean temperatures will rise by 1 to 4 degrees Celsius, wreaking havoc on aquatic life due to increased stress. Research has shown in the lab that ocean warming is affecting marine life, giving scientists a better understanding of what’s happening to fish in the wild. Some species adapt, while others succumb to acute stress responses.

Endangered Species

Marine researchers say there are about 2,270 endangered species in the ocean, many of which are at risk from rising ocean temperatures. Many marine species will be at risk over the next century as they struggle to adapt to climate change. Breeding has become a major problem as rising water temperatures shorten the breeding season and spawn late in the fall.

When marine life is at risk, animals on land are also seriously affected. For example, polar bears in the Arctic feed on seals. Rising ocean temperatures are making it more difficult for seals to breed as they need ice to lay eggs. Polar bears will become even more vulnerable as seal populations decline later this century. Experts have already noted that polar bear populations are declining in northern Canada, calling for action to save these animals.

How will these impacts affect the maritime industry?

As the 21st century progresses, ocean warming will have a variety of impacts on marine life, many of which will have far-reaching effects. How will these impact the maritime industry? Here are some factors to keep in mind.

Ships at risk 

A short-term effect of ocean warming is increased biofouling problems on ships. Barnacles thrive in warm water and damage blood vessels by increasing resistance. When large colonies of barnacles form, they need to use more fuel and do more work. Antifouling marine paints inhibits barnacle growth, but shipping companies will have to deal with this problem more frequently as this century progresses.

Rapidly Changing Industry 

Fish migration means local ports may lose the fishing opportunities they once relied on to support their economies. A notable example is the Atlantic coast of the United States, where lobsters are abundant.

Rising ocean temperatures are pushing lobsters further north because they rely on cold temperatures to survive. New York used to be a major location for lobster landings, but that rate declined by 97.7% from 1996 to 2014 due to global warming. Rhode Island and Connecticut experienced similar declines, but Maine flourished because it was further north.

These impacts also affect people who charter fishing vessels for recreational tourism. You may want to take a boat to the Atlantic Ocean to catch black sea bass, but that option diminishes as this species moves to colder waters.

Reduced fishing opportunities 

Migration may reduce fishing opportunities in some areas while improving them in others. However, maritime industry professionals must be aware of the risk of extinction for many species. A 2022 study concludes that mass extinctions in ocean systems are likely if Earth continues to operate as usual. However, reversing trends in greenhouse gas emissions could protect 70% of marine biodiversity.

Decreasing Fish and Shellfish Quality 

The fishing industry will experience a decline in the quality of their catch as the effects of ocean warming on marine life affect their nutritional benefits. As the world’s population grows, more seafood is needed to sustainably feed people. A 2022 Marine Environmental Research study found that warming waters negatively impact macronutrients and micronutrients, leading to decreases in protein and lipids.

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