Higher temperatures and less oxygen could cause extinction of some species [11,5]. Deep sea creatures are particularly vulnerable, because the deep sea has historically had stable temperatures, so they have not evolved to cope with rapid changes .
REPRODUCTION: whether turtle eggs develop as a boy or girl depends on the temperature of the surrounding sand . In some populations, it’s predicted that only 2-3 turtles out of 100 will be male by 2030 . Few females would be able to find mates, so the population could crash .
TIMING: climate change makes it warmer earlier in the Spring, so animals adjust the timing of their behaviour . Changes in the timing of phytoplankton life cycles are central to this problem . Phytoplankton are tiny plant-like organisms that float in the ocean . When the light, temperature, and nutrients are all just right, phytoplankton replicate explosively, causing huge blooms which last just a few weeks . With global warming, blooms happen at a different time of year . Phytoplankton are at the bottom of the food chain . In general, organisms higher up the food chain adjust their timings slower than those lower down, meaning they become out of sync with their food . This is causing declines in species such as cod .
MIGRATION: many marine animals move to stay in water that is a good temperature for their bodies . In general, climate change is making them move towards the poles or deeper down in the ocean . This causes loss of synchrony in space (rather than time), troubling e.g. puffins and whales . Right whales now travel further to find their food that has moved in response to the warming ocean . This brings them closer to shipping lanes, increasing the chance of collisions with boats, and accelerating decline of this endangered species .
Climate change has a whole cocktail of effects on the oceans – we have covered but a few [13,7]. This makes the situation far worse for species that are already struggling from other human pressures, like fishing and pollution .
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