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Terrestrial animals from birds and other wildlife to pets were also severely impacted by these record-breaking temperatures.
Why This Matters: Heat is one of the most deadly forms of extreme weather, for both people and ecosystems — hundreds of people died last week as a heatwave swept over the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, the mass deaths of staple foods in marine ecosystems like blue mussels could have a ripple effect on those who rely on them to survive, like sea ducks.
Dr. Harley had estimated the death toll of extreme heat on marine life by looking at the number of blue mussels living on a particular shoreline, and what fraction of the mussels died. What he found was shocking — hundreds of millions of mussels were lost. Factoring in the other sea creatures who inhabit the shore, from barnacles and hermit crabs to worms and sea cucumbers, the death toll could be well over a billion.
“I want to find the positives and there are some, but it’s pretty overwhelming right now,” Dr. Harley, the University of British Columbia marine biologist, told the New York Times. “Because if we become too depressed or too overwhelmed, we won’t keep trying. And we need to keep trying.”
Fatigued Mussels: Mussels and other bivalves are a bedrock species as they provide habitat and food for a multitude of species. While mass die-offs are not unprecedented, scientists have stated that climate change is making these traumatic events more frequent. Mussels are resilient but marine scientists worry that they will be unable to evolve to live through extreme heatwaves.
Oysters are the unsung heroes of our oceans and estuaries. A single oyster can filter 50 gallons of water each day, while oyster reefs help protect coastal communities from erosion and storm surges and provide other marine species with habitat. In Pensacola, FL, The Nature Conservancy is leading the effort to place 33 oyster reefs […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer A new study has found that half of the nation’s tidal marshes are at risk of being destroyed by sea-level rise, most of them along the southern coasts of the contiguous U.S. Now, members of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, whose one million residents live along coastal areas stretching from Jacksonville, North Carolina, to […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer St. Petersburg, Florida, has fallen victim to what could be one of the most prolonged red tides in recent history. Hundreds of tons of dead sea life have washed up on shores as the ecological disaster takes root, and experts say the end isn’t yet in sight. Officials are trying to pinpoint […]
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