Science

Sea creatures hit twice as hard by global warming, experts say

Scientists compared the vulnerability of fish and other non-mammalian ocean dwellers, and cold-blooded land animals.

Cold-blooded sea creatures are twice as sensitive to the effects of global warming as reptiles and insects on land, a study has found.

Marine species have double the risk of vanishing from their habitats as the oceans heat up, researchers say.

The vulnerability of ocean-dwellers to the effects of climate change could have a significant impact on human communities that depend on fish and shellfish, the authors claim.

The study is the first to compare the ability of cold-blooded marine and land species to survive rising temperatures while remaining in their normal habitats.

US scientists analysed worldwide research on almost 400 species, including fish, lizards, insects and crabs.

Lead researcher Dr Malin Pinsky, from Rutgers University, said: “We find that, globally, marine species are being eliminated from their habitats by warming temperatures twice as often as land species.

“The findings suggest that new conservation efforts will be needed if the ocean is going to continue supporting human well-being, nutrition and economic activity.”

Marine species were on average more likely to live close to dangerously high temperatures with few means of escape, said the scientists, whose findings appear in the journal Nature.

In contrast many land animals could take refuge from the heat in forests, shaded areas or underground.

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