The Mediterranean ecosystem suffers from a “marine forest fire”

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Scientists have revealed that global warming is making the Mediterranean warmer, causing shellfish and fish corals to suffer “enormously”.

  • Smoke-filled skies filter sunlight orange around shorebirds as the Thomas Fire threatened communities in Carpinteria in Santa Barbara on December 12, 2017, in Carpinteria, Calif. (Getty Images)

Scientists have revealed that parts of the Mediterranean are more than 6C warmer than usual this year compared to previous years, raising fears that the sea’s fragile ecosystems are suffering from what can be call it a “marine forest fire” and be forever altered by global warming. .

Water temperatures have been well above average since May, peaking at 30.7C off the east coast of Corsica last weekend – summer 2022 is set to see new numbers for both the duration than for the intensity of the marine heat wave.

Read: World must prepare for 30% more wildfires by 2050: UN

This month, several regions of southern France experienced record high air temperatures, which accompanied weak winds and produced an extremely warm and much deeper than normal surface water layer, according to ecologists. sailors.

“A water temperature of 28 or 29°C may seem pleasant to swimmers, but it is worrying for the ecosystems of the Mediterranean,” said Frédéric Denhez. BFM-TV. “The Mediterranean is starting to look like the Red Sea, and its species are not adapted to that.”

Rubén del Campo of Spain’s national meteorological service said The world that when colder deep waters no longer rise to the surface, native populations of “corals, shells and fish suffer greatly” in the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean is considered a biodiversity hotspot as it is home to around 10% of all marine species. “The most adaptable organisms will resist – although they may become weaker – by adjusting their physiology or migrating,” said Marseille-based marine ecologist Emilie Villar. “But the weakest are in danger of perishing,” she said. Provence newspaper, adding that 700 Mediterranean species are threatened with extinction. “If the shock lasts too long, or if the species is fixed and unable to migrate, others will fill the void – or, if conditions become too harsh, the Mediterranean risks extinction.”

A recent study found that maritime heat waves had so far destroyed up to 90% of coral populations in parts of the Mediterranean, with gorgonian and red corals being particularly affected, as well as sea sponges and corals. sea ​​urchins.

David Diaz, a researcher at the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, said The world that such ocean heat waves were “the equivalent of undersea forest fires, with flora and fauna dying as if scorched”.

Water temperatures cause concern

Last year a WWF report found that Mediterranean water temperatures were rising 20% ​​faster than the global average, making it the fastest warming sea in the world.

Around 1,000 alien species have already migrated into the sea, according to the report, some via the Suez Canal from the Red Sea. These species include 126 different types of fish, several of which are highly invasive and destructive of the Mediterranean marine habitat.

The last date of temperature recording for the Mediterranean was in August 2018; the water off Marseille has been measured to be 6.6C warmer than average for the time of year, while the longest marine heatwave observed so far was in 2003 and lasted from August 3 to September 2.

Climate change and marine life

Climate change has not only affected human life but also posed a great threat to wild animals, seabirds and marine life. In June, residents of New Zealand rounded up some 183 penguins they had found at Ninety Mile Beach for further investigation into what appears to be the latest development in a phenomenon of dead penguins washing up in large numbers on the beaches of the island nation.

The kororā, a species of penguin characterized by its brilliant blue color and known by locals as the little blue penguins, is the smallest species of the penguin family in the world, and they are native to New Zealand. But their population in the country is decreasing. The Department of Conservation classifies the kororā as “at risk” and “in decline”.

A senior DoC science adviser specializing in seabirds, Graham Taylor, estimates that more than 500 penguins have stranded since the beginning of May, projecting that the figure could approach 1,000. He also noted that it was difficult to give an accurate number of dead, mainly due to the fact that locals found and buried many of them.

All of the bodies found on New Zealand’s sandy beaches were found to be extremely thin, weighing less than their average height by 800 to 1000 grams.

However, it turned out that the kororā weren’t starving due to overfishing, but the main reason they weren’t finding enough nutrients is the disruption of the food chain created by climate change, which creates waters too warm for the fish they feed on.

Read: Global warming could lead to the greatest extinction of marine life

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