Menu
Lifestyle

Warming oceans heat up marine life

New research, involving Southern Cross University scientists, shows juvenile sea urchins struggle to survive in warming ocean temperatures.
New research, involving Southern Cross University scientists, shows juvenile sea urchins struggle to survive in warming ocean temperatures. Supplied

WARM sea temperatures might be handy for humans who love the beach, but it’s apparently less fun for some creatures that call the ocean home.

New research involving scientists at Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre, as well as the Universities of Sydney and Wollongong, has revealed baby abalone and sea urchins, animals which play an important role in the ocean ecosystem, struggle to grow in warming ocean conditions.

Researchers reared abalone and sea urchin embryos in ocean temperatures projected for the years 2100 and beyond by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Abalone were particularly sensitive to the changes. While sea urchins fared better, they also suffered when temperatures were set to four degrees above current ocean levels.

Dr Symon Dworjanyn, from the university’s National Marine Science Centre, said the research results were important given abalone and sea urchins played a very important role in marine ecosystem function.

“They are herbivorous grazers, spending most of their time eating seaweed – which are the equivalent of the trees, shrubs and grass of the ocean. This thins out seaweed providing habitat for a diversity of species,” he said.

Dr Dworjanyn said the research could lead to various possible conclusions on the impact that warming oceans could have on the wider sea ecosystem.

“When these grazers are removed we might expect that important habitats they create by removing large seaweeds will disappear and so will the fish and other seaweeds living in these habitats,” he said.

“However, at the same time the critters tested here will be disappearing. We might predict a suit of more temperature, tolerant tropical species will arrive.

“As we change the world’s climate we are effectively conducting one large, uncontrolled experiment, the result of which is difficult to know.”

Dr Dworjanyn also said there could be economic implications if the experiment results were replicated in real life.

“Abalone are Australia’s fourth-largest seafood export, worth close to $200 million a year,” he said.

“But perhaps more importantly, these invertebrates play a pivotal role in maintaining habitats for a whole range of fish and invertebrates species that are the lifeblood of our fishing industry.”

The results of Dr Dworjanyn and his colleagues have been published in the scientific journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B.



Axemen start season with bang in 9s

The Hoey Moey Tooheys Coffs Coast 9s final at Geoff King Motors Park was played between Group 2 rivals the Coffs Harbour Comets and the Orara Valley Axemen who won 12-10. Nines rugby league 17 February 2018 Photo: Brad Greenshields/Coffs Coast Advocate

Promised improvement more than just empty words after Coffs Coast 9s

REVEALED: Rental numbers rise at the start of the year

RENTAL RISE: The number of residential rentals available in Coffs Harbour rose marginally since the end of 2017.

Coffs records marginal rise in number of rentals

Local Partners

‘I have slept with 100 people’

MANY of us would be coy about revealing how many sexual partners we’ve had. It’s unlikely we’d attempt to track them down again.

Pregnant Erin Molan hospitalised

Erin Molan has been announced as the new host of the Footy Show. Picture: Jonathan Ng

She collapsed, hitting her head on the ground

Botched jump led to years of hell

Hilary Judith nearly died in a skydiving accident. But that was only the start of the trauma.

Her body was reliving the accident, over and over again

Return to sender

HEAR THE ECHO: The Mountain Story is a metaphor for life in general.

Like a voice echoes in the mountains, in life we get what we give

Tough love day care

.

Nothing quite like a headbutt in modern child raising

Don't just dream about it

RELAX: Create an inviting place to retire to at night with a comfortable mattress and quality bedding.

Make your bed a place where dreams are made