What We Are Doing to our Oceans

by Lily Eldrid

“No water, no life, No blue, no green." - Sylvia Earle

So, if you have read the title, you might be a bit confused on what issue I am talking about; poaching, pollution (plastic and fumes), overfishing, poisonous algae from our sewers… the list could go on forever. But unfortunately for me, because I would kind of like to do all of them, we are going to be talking about climate change and how it is affecting our precious oceans. What I am trying to say is, sit down, shut up and join me on this coffee infused rollercoaster I randomly decided to do about an hour ago. Excuse me if I get anything wrong, I am not a scientist nor close to being one. Hope you enjoy it. I will, I am listening to “wake me up before you go-go” as I write this.

One of the first effects on what climate change does to our oceans is called coral bleaching. Now if you don’t know what this is, it is when the coral is wiped of its colour and slowly dies. This coral is important for the ecosystem  because it almost harbours marine life. Many fish use it to hide from their larger predators and also as a food resource from all the algae that has grown there. The reason why it is dying is because it cannot handle the new, longer heat waves caused by climate change. Some scientists have suggested that we deploy large, floating shade cloths or maybe pump cold water into the places that could be affected by the waves of heat hitting them. Although some people think it is a bad idea to disrupt the animals and their territory.

Moving onto my second effect; mass fish migration. This one is really easy to explain. It is when the change in temperature is too much for the fish, and they know that if they stay in the place they have settled, they will die. So, they migrate to colder waters. It has made towns whose main business is fishing have to either move or close the business. And it is not only fish that are making these mass migrations, the famous “American Lobster” has moved from its also famous city, Long Island, to an astounding five hundred miles away off the coast of Maine. As we cannot control the fish, we will just have to live with the consequences that we made for ourselves. 

Moving onto my third effect; drowning wetlands. England is covered with muddy areas next to lakes and small rivers that could be affected by this certain point. What I mean is these areas could overflow and take up the land endangered birds and thriving plants inhabit. This could also happen to coral reefs and sea grass meadows and that is not good. So, to help we need to keep an eye on how healthy they are and how clean the water is.

Moving onto my fourth effect; ocean acidification. I know, big word but don’t worry, I will explain this as best as I possibly can. Each day, the ocean absorbs one third of the carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere which is about 22 million tons! Although this slows down global warming, it increases acidic content by 25 percent which is harmful to sea life that uses calcium carbonate to form their skeletons and skulls. This is because calcium carbonate is disrupted if acid joins it. It also affects coral reefs as that also needs calcium carbonate to form reef structures. So really it effects whole ecosystems as other sea life survive on the coral. Scientists have only just found out about ocean acidification and researchers are just beginning to look more deeply into how to resolve this problem.

Moving onto my last but not least effect; extreme weather. This ranges from draughts to storms to drastic downpour. Heat and draughts occur because of temperature and humidity and with temperature records being smashed every summer it is no surprise heat is increasing. Heat dries out soil making draughts in some areas increasingly longer and more of them. Storms and floods are caused by too much evaporation leading to more moisture in the atmosphere making downpour frequent in hotter places. Rising sea levels are making it easier to get higher storm surges and floods. Water generally expands as it heats up so rising sea levels are not surprisingly caused by climate change. Weirdly, snow and frigid weather is also caused by climate change. To help you understand this, just remember that a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture. So when the temperatures are below freezing, snowfall can break records.

As you can see by all these effects that climate change is having on our oceans, we need to find ways to stop it, and fast. There might be only a little time to help before the consequences are irreversible. Even the ocean has limits, and we are pushing against them now. It won’t be long until we push too far.