What is happening to our ocean? I never recall these weird changes with the ocean when we were younger, do you? Were we missing something?
Let’s look at what we all know is happening.We’ve heard a lot of talk about sea level rise. Portland has seen some of its streets near the Old Port flood during annual high tides and friends who have lived for decades on our tidal river now find their lawn flooded at the highest tides.Sea level rise is tied to global warming. We have been setting records for warm years now year after year according to the climate scientists.Because the earth is warming, our oceans are absorbing a lot of this heat. Last year according to the NAT our oceans were warmer than they ever have been, and the last 5 years have been the five warmest on record. When water is warmed up, it expands.But there’s more. As the temperatures rise, some glaciers and ice sheets are melting into the ocean.
Since the ocean’s warming, some of the sea food we love no longer thrives offshore. Gone are our sweet Maine shrimp, for example.
Moreover, the ocean’s absorbing now about 30% of the CO2 in the atmosphere. Because of this, our shellfish – clams and oysters – may soon have such a problem making their shells that they will disappear from our coast.
And that’s not all.
Our seaweed seems to be changing from our long leafy kelp we see on the beach after a storm, to bushy reddish seaweed. This might be a problem.
The kelp we are so familiar with helps hide many young fish like cod and Pollock, as well as small lobsters and clams, while giving them a good food source.
The invading bushy, reddish invasive seaweed gives these small fish, lobsters and crabs little protection and no food.
You can guess what might happen to what’s left of our fish as well as our crabs and lobsters.
The sea level rise; the changing seaweed and the disappearance of some of our most sought after fish and Maine shrimp, as well as in the years to come, our oysters and clams; our lobster haul probably a lot less – all of this seems to be tied to the ocean warming just a few degrees.
What a change from when we were younger, but it is happening now.