A new study has made chilling projections for the future of the world’s ocean habitats, predicting an inevitable collapse of the marine food chain in a matter of decades. The report, based on the findings of more than 600 published experimental studies on the world’s oceans, serves as a perturbing reminder of the ominous implications of climate change on the marine ecosystems of our planet.
According to University of Adelaide researcher Ivan Nagelkerken, such potentially disastrous developments would hold serious consequences for the planet as increased ocean “acidification” and warming are certain to bring into peril the diversity of key marine species. Populations that thrive on the Earth’s magnificently vast reservoir of marine life and depend on it for their economic sustenance will be irreparably impacted.
“This ‘simplification’ of our oceans could have dire consequences for our current way of life, particularly for coastal populations and those that rely on oceans for food and trade. With higher metabolic rates in the warmer water, and therefore a greater demand for food, there is a mismatch with less food available for carnivores – the bigger fish that fisheries industries are based around. There will be a species collapse from the top of the food chain down.”
Earth’s treasured marine ecosystems comprise distinctively diverse entities that emerge into existence as a result of remarkable ecological influences that foster them. These include the deep ocean, tropical seas, coral reefs, polar regions of the Antarctic and Arctic, rocky and sandy shoreline habitats, barrier islands, mangrove swamps and coastal grasslands. Lifeforms occupying these ecosystems are as unique and diverse as the ecosystems themselves.
According to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA (PNAS), many species constituting oceanic habitats will change from their current states as a direct consequence of “simplification of the ecosystem structure and function.” The PNAS website abstract reads:
“People are not only concerned about climate change and its effects on plant and animal diversity but also about how humans are fundamentally changing the globe’s largest ecosystem that sustains economic revenue and food for many countries. Ocean acidification and warming increase the potential for an overall simplification of ecosystem structure and function with reduced energy flow among trophic levels and little scope for species to acclimate.”
The food chains of the world’s oceans are susceptible to the effects of greenhouse gases, excessive deep sea fishing, and environmental hazards caused by industrial pollutants. The world’s oceans hold the potential to absorb exorbitant amounts of carbon dioxide discharged from extensive fossil fuel burning. Soaring ocean temperatures recorded over the last decade are likely to fuel ocean warming to the point where world oceans will be unable to sustain the rich bio-diversity evident in their ecological composition. Hence, a chain of events may be triggered, eliminating the primary elements of the food chain and ultimately impacting larger marine species that feast on them for survival.
A recent WWF report points to a number of factors contributing to the dramatic drop in fish population and the scale of the environmental havoc wreaked upon on the planet’s oceans. According to one startling statistic, the world’s coral reefs are likely to disappear by 2050 if the pattern of deterioration persists. Reckless and unregulated industrial practices abetted by a glaring lack of international policing of the excessive dumping of waste material are major factors adding to the mix. However, by far the fundamental issue according to the report is the elimination of deep-sea fish populations as an outcome of over-fishing.
Meanwhile, according to a recent Inquisitr report, coral reefs around the world are already being steadily consumed by recurring bouts of oceanic “bleaching,” an event that gradually destroys their rare, strikingly vibrant, and awe-inspiring characteristics.
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