EcoAlert –“Animals are Dying in Disturbing Numbers Throughout the Planet Due to Climate Change”

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Eighty thousand reindeer have starved to death in Siberia during the past decade, and experts believe it's caused by sea ice melting due to rising temperatures that in turn caused more rain which then froze on the ground, which meant the reindeer couldn't break through the ice to reach their food. Around 20,000 reindeer died in 2006 and another 61,000 died in 2013 because they couldn't eat through the snow and ice.


The Biology Letter journal has published its findings in a new report and says things are likely to get worse.

The news comes weeks after huge numbers of tufted puffins were found dead on St Paul Island in the Bering sea that scientists linked to the rise in ocean temperatures which resulted in a lack of food for the birds. The hundreds of dead, emaciated puffins suddenly began showing up on this isolated, wind-swept scratch of land in the Pribilof Islands in the middle of the North Pacific. Scientists are worried not only about the population of this white-masked, orange-beaked seabird, but also about what their deaths may portend for the normally productive Bering Sea, according tp National Geographic.

 

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"The Bering Sea has been off-the-charts warm," said Nate Mantua, an ecologist at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, California. "We've never seen anything like this. We're in uncharted territory. We're in the midst of an extraordinary time."

In the past few years another patch of unusually warm water that settled into the Gulf of Alaska, merging with warm waters in southern California and completely transforming the coastal ecosphere. For months, reports National Geographic, scientists off Oregon found almost none of the fatty-rich copepods that form the base of the food web. Sea lions, common murres, and Cassin's auklets died by the thousands because of a lack of food. Scores of whales and sea otters turned up dead in Alaska. The West Coast saw it's most toxic and longest-lasting harmful algal bloom ever.

Earlier this year, scientists found sea temperatures in 2015 and 2016 had resulted in the deaths of millions of coral in and around the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

"Species have three options," said Dr Stephen Cornelius, the World Wildlife Fund's chief adviser on climate change. "When confronted with climate change animals can move, they can adapt or they can die," he told the BBC's Newsbeat.

"Moving is one option, so they can try and stay within the envelope of temperature and rainfall that they are used to. They can adapt – which could be a plant flowering earlier. It could be a caterpillar hatching a bit earlier to respond to that plant changing.

"There are various things they can do, but if they are unable to move or adapt they may become extinct in that locality."

"Climate change has an impact on biodiversity but there are other things that also [affect it] such as habitat destruction due to agriculture, pollution or over-exploitation," Stephen says. Mass deaths among wildlife populations are just one physical result of these factors.

The Daily Galaxy via bbc.co.uk and  nationalgeographic.com

Image credit: With thanks to fenamagazine and esq.h-cdn.co

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