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Climate change is making baby sharks smaller, malnourished and exhausted

Researchers studied the effects of warming temperatures on the growth, evolution and physiology of Great Barrier Reef’s epaulette sharks and tested embryos and incubators in waters up to 31 degrees Celsius (87.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

The research team found that shark embryos grew faster in warmer waters and used their plum soap – their only food source at this stage of development – faster.

The creatures that hatched earlier were born smaller and needed to feed right away but lacked energy, researchers from Australia’s ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University and the University of Massachusetts said on Tuesday.

There are more than 500 shark species living around the world, and most give birth to live young. Some shark species, such as epaulette sharks, lay eggs that are left unprotected and must be able to survive alone for up to four months.

“The epaulette shark is known for its resistance to change, even to ocean acidification,”

; said Jodie Rummer, co-author and associate professor at the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, in a statement. “So if this species can not cope with the warming water, how will other, less tolerant species cope with it?”

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef, covering nearly 133,000 square kilometers and is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 species of hard coral and dozens of other species.

The last decade has been the warmest recorded for global sea temperatures. By the end of the century, the Great Barrier Reef is likely to experience average summer temperatures close to or above 31 degrees Celsius, scientists warn.

Rummer said rising sea temperatures could threaten future sharks, including spawning and live-bearing species, because as temperatures rise, the creatures will be born or hatched in environments they can barely tolerate.

“The study presents a worrying future given that sharks are already endangered,” lead author Carolyn Wheeler said in a statement.

“Sharks are important predators that keep marine ecosystems healthy. Without predators, entire ecosystems can collapse, which is why we need to continue to study and protect these creatures,” added Wheeler, a PhD candidate at the ARC Center of Excellence. for Coral Reef Studies, Wheeler.

A milestone UN report warns sea levels will rise faster than expected in 2100

“Our future ecosystems depend (on) us to take urgent steps to curb climate change,” Rummer said.

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Seas serve as a good indicator of the real impact of climate change – they cover almost three quarters of the earth’s surface, they absorb the vast majority of the world’s heat.
Although we often do not see it, global warming is having a profound effect on the world. A warmer sea causes sea levels to rise, causing problems such as dangerous flooding off the coast. This leads to the loss of sea ice, further warming of the water and can affect jet flow, allowing cold Arctic air to reach further south, making winters more intense and threatening animals dependent on sea ice.

A warmer sea also contributes to increases in precipitation and leads to stronger and longer-lasting storms such as Hurricanes Florence and Harvey.

Marine heat waves that have killed shards of Earth’s coral reefs are likely to double in frequency and are expected to become more common and intense, a milestone report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found in 2019.

CNN’s Jen Christensen, Ivana Kottasov√° and Drew Kann contributed reporting.

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