Experts say the ‘heat dome’ likely killed a billion marine animals off the coast of Canada and Canada
More than a billion marine animals along Canada’s Pacific coast have likely died in the past week heat wave recordExperts warn, highlighting the vulnerability of ecosystems unaccustomed to temperature extremes.
The “thermal dome” that rested on the west Canada For five days, the northwestern United States pushed temperatures in communities along the coast to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) – breaking old records and providing little relief for days.
It is believed that the relentless heat الحرارة Killed up to 500 people in the province of British Columbia and contributed to Hundreds of wildfires are currently burning across the province.
But experts fear it could have a devastating impact on marine life.
Christopher Harley, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia, has calculated that more than a billion marine animals may have died due to the unusual heat.
He said a walk along a beach in the Vancouver area highlighted the extent of the damage caused by the heat wave.
“The beach doesn’t usually break when you walk on it. But there were so many empty mussel shells lying everywhere that you couldn’t avoid trampling on the dead animals while walking around.”
Harley was struck by the smell of rotting mussels, many of which were actually cooked in abnormally warm water. Snails, sea stars and oysters were disintegrating in the shallow waters. “It was a profound tyrannical experience,” he said.
While the air around Vancouver hovered around the 30s (about 100 F), Harley and Talib used infrared cameras to record temperatures above 50 C (122 F) along the rocky shore.
“It was so hot when I was out with one of the students that we collected data for a bit and then went back to the shade and ate frozen grapes,” Harley said. “But of course, this option is not available in mussels, sea stars, and oysters.”
Mussels are very hardy oysters, withstanding temperatures of up to 30 seconds. Barnacles are more persistent, surviving the mid-40s (about 113 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least a few hours.
“But when temperatures rise above that, these are just unsurvivable conditions,” he said.
The mass death of oysters will temporarily affect water quality because mussels and oysters help filter the sea, Harley said, making it clear enough that sunlight reaches the eel beds while also creating habitats for other species.
“A square meter of a mussel bed can be home to dozens or even a hundred species,” he said. The way the mussels live tightly has also informed Harley’s calculation of the range of loss.
“You can fit thousands in an area the size of a stove top. There are hundreds of kilometers of rocky shore that receive mussels. Every time you expand, the numbers are constantly increasing. And that’s just mussels. A lot of marine life would have died out.”
While mussels can regenerate over a period of two years, a number of sea stars and oysters live for decades, and reproduce more slowly, so their recovery will likely take longer.
Harley also received reports from colleagues of sea anemones, rock fish and shellfish.
Experts have warned that the county needs to adapt to the fact that sudden and persistent heat waves are likely to become more common as a result of climate change.
Another heat wave is expected to hit the western United States and southwestern Canada next week, highlighting the harshness of the dry summer heat.
“The obsessed part of the ecologist is excited to see what happens in the coming years,” Harley said. “But most of the rest of me are somewhat depressed. A lot of species will not be able to keep up with the pace of change. Ecosystems will change in ways that are really hard to predict. We don’t know where the tipping points are.”