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Greenhouse Ocean May Downsize Fish

by Ellen Hardy
14 January 2008, at 12:00am

US - Scientists are predicting that the sea's rich food web-stretching from Alaska to Russia- could fray as algae adapt to greenhouse conditions. And the effects could happen this century.

The Bering Sea is highly productive thanks mainly to diatoms, a large type of phytoplankton.

"All the fish that ends up in McDonald's, fish sandwiches-that's all Bering Sea fish," said USC marine ecologist Dave Hutchins at the University of Delaware.

In a report listed on 'Green' website TerraDaily, he said that currently, the Bering Sea provides roughly half the fish caught in US waters each year and nearly a third caught worldwide.

Former student Clinton Hare, led research project looking at the issue of gloabl warming anf algal proliferation. The study, titled 'Consequences of increased temperature and CO2 for phytoplankton community structure in the Bering Sea',  was published last month in Marine Ecology Progress Series.

"The experiments we did up there definitely suggest that the changing ecosystem may support less of what we're harvesting-things like pollock and hake," said Hutchins .

While the study must be interpreted cautiously, its implications are harrowing, Hutchins said, especially since the Bering Sea is already warming.

"It's kind of a canary in a coal mine because it appears to be showing climate change effects before the rest of the ocean," he noted.

"It's warmer, marine mammals and birds are having massive die-offs, there are invasive species-in general, it's changing to a more temperate ecosystem that's not going to be as productive."

Carbon dioxide's direct effects on the ocean are often overlooked by the public.


To read the full story click here.

Further Reading

       - To view an abstract of the research paper click here.

Ellen Hardy