Marine Life Migrating North

Nikitha Srinivasan

Marine animals have been migrating toward the poles. Every decade, the marine species have been traveling at a speed of 32 miles per decade. As the temperatures in the oceans rise, fish and other marine creatures are moving towards the poles. As global warming continues, the oceans are getting warmer, and more acidic. Fish are sensitive to the temperature of the water around them, so if the water becomes warmer, they will migrate to a place where the temperature is right for them. The marine creatures are trying to get away from the warm and more acidic waters to the colder less acidic environment up north.

Sea creatures that live lower down are also migrating, but at a slower pace (18 miles per decade). The heatwaves have doubled since 1982. According to the Smithsonian Institution, 82% of marine animals are moving towards the poles due to global warming. This could be very detrimental, due to the fact the icebergs are slowly melting. If more animals move north, they could face more problems. This would also negatively affect the animals who live on lands (ice) like penguins and polar bears. 

This doesn’t just affect the marine animals that are migrating. It affects the current species living there. Many problems may arise like less food, decreased oxygen levels, ocean acidification, and the composition of the environment. This will drastically affect the food web. One small change in a food web could alter the whole food web. For example, at the bottom of the food web are phytoplankton, which is consumed by zooplankton, which is consumed by small fish and eventually sharks, dolphins, and larger fish. In other words, all species in a community are all interconnected.

If phytoplankton suddenly became extinct or endangered, zooplankton will have to compete to eat the phytoplankton which would cause a lot of zooplankton to become hungry and starve which would cause less zooplankton and would negatively affect the whole food chain. This effect would not only bring down the food web but also collapse on us, humans. As fish move north, the people who live in the coastal regions who rely on fish would have less fish to catch and would need to find a new source of food.  Research in 2016 showed that climate change could cut the global fishing revenues by 10 billion dollars by 2050. 

Therefore, we should work towards reducing global warming so the fish don’t have to migrate. Some things we could do are reduce household energy use, start using sun and wind power, and reducing use of gas-powered cars. We should buy things that are recyclable instead of plastic items.

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