Climate change driving tropical fish south
TROPICAL fish are moving south as Australia’s marine ecosystems begin to feel the heat of climate change, a study has found.
CSIRO researchers say there is striking evidence of tropical species moving south as sea temperatures rise quickly.
The scientists say large numbers of marine animals and plants are already dying off or migrating.
The Climate Adaptation Marine Report Card 2012, released today (Friday, August 17) provides evidence of a large-scale redistribution of marine species in waters around the continent.
Dr Elvira Poloczanska, who led the study, says there’s a lot of uncertainty about the long-term impacts.
“The potential is there for animals and plants to shift, but whether they do or not depends how well they can deal with changes in their current environment,” Dr Poloczanska has told Sydney media.
Some changes could be good, like the establishment of new fisheries.
But there’s a lot of concern about food chains and habitats as entire species come into contact with each other for the first time.
Sea urchins usually found north of Bass Strait are now eating Tasmanian kelp forests which provide habitat for many fish species.
Dr Poloczanska says it’s important people begin to adapt to the marine changes too.
“Our oceans provide us with a whole load of services – every second breath of oxygen we breathe is provided by marine plants; they provide protein when we eat fish and also relaxation such as when we go swimming, so it’s important we make decisions about the future,” she says.