Heat waves threaten marine life, climate expert warns

Animal News : Heat waves threaten marine life
Coral reef and marine animals, photo: Canva

Extreme heat is not only affecting life on land but is also causing marine heat waves that threaten the biodiversity of our oceans, Susan Joy Hassol, the director of Climate Communication, said.

Heat waves are causing severe impacts on coral reefs and other marine animals dependent on these ecosystems. Large parts of the world are currently experiencing record-breaking temperatures.

“The water temperatures in the ocean around Florida (United States) are off the charts. They’re in the nineties (Fahrenheit), very warm. And it’s not only in Florida. Something like 40% of the planet is seeing a marine heat wave right now,” Hassol pointed out.

She highlighted that these conditions are extremely serious for sea life, particularly for coral reefs. Corals house nourishing algae within them, but when the water becomes too hot, they expel these algae, causing the corals to bleach, or turn white.

If the water remains hot, the coral will eventually die. This poses a huge risk for other marine animals. “Something like a quarter of marine species are dependent on coral reefs for some part of their life cycle. They are sometimes thought of as a nursery for marine animals,” Hassol explained.

She called for urgent and significant reductions in global emissions to limit these effects: “We need to reduce emissions globally by 50% in this decade by 2030, and we need to cut them to zero by 2050.”

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