• Seaside Sustainability

Ocean Warming and Marine Life Migration

Written by: Cassidy O'Lear

Recent weather phenomena have brought climate change to the public’s attention once again. From the wildfires in California to Colorado's recent temperature change from hot days to a summer snow storm, it has been hard to ignore the clues that climate change is happening and ever-increasing. Though these new climate events are on our radar, there are still many ongoing climate occurrences that need our attention as well, one of which is ocean warming. The increasing temperature of our waters is not news, but its effect on the marine life that must adapt to the rising heat is the topic of recent studies.


Researchers recently discovered that ocean warming is causing changes to species’ migrations patterns. As the temperature rises, species’ spawning times change meaning larvae are released earlier in the spring than usual, and therefore face stronger currents that push them into warmer waters. Though this may not seem like a big deal, these offspring are less likely to survive in warmer temperatures. Species are being forced to evolve to survive these warming temperatures or search for more tolerable temperatures elsewhere. The current moves at faster speeds earlier in the spring season meaning larvae may be carried away from their habitat. The unwarranted movement of species from waters they are familiar with and the disruption of their optimal conditions by dangerously hot temperatures is not something human beings can simply ignore.


According to Science News, marine heat waves, which consist of at least five consecutive days of hot water in a particular area of the ocean, have grown in regularity over the last 100 years. As climate change has worsened, these heat waves have even intensified. This means marine life traveling miles in the wrong direction of their usual migration in search of cooler waters is becoming more and more common. 


Though this issue is not resolvable by individual efforts, it is our personal responsibility to remain informed of how climate change is affecting our oceans. On a larger scale, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and further research on the negative consequences of ocean warming is necessary to combat these effects. However, making small efforts to reduce your carbon footprint and staying informed on the most up to date research is a great way to do your part. Seaside Sustainability’s mission is to educate our community on conservation and sustainability efforts, and we encourage our readers to continually educate themselves on the environment’s current crisis.