Warmer waters bring exotic residents
June 29, 2011
A steady increase in water temperature over the past three decades has brought more than a hundred new species to the Norwegian coast line. Divers can now spot John Dory off the south west coast, mussels are popping up in Svalbard and the edible crab has made its way as far north as Hammerfest.
According to a study from the Directorate for Nature Management, the hotter climate is causing a shift in the animal life that inhabit Norwegian waters. Marine biologist Torleiv Brattegard has been gathering information on benthic fauna which shows that since 1997, 130 new species have taken up residence along the coast. The new species have been brought by ocean currents from Shetland and Scotland, or drifted from Swedish and Danish waters.
Other species that typically could be found off the coast of southern Norway, have now migrated further north; of the 1600 species that were traditionally designated as southern, 565 have expanded their habitat northward and over 300 of those have made it all the way to the Barents Sea. Even the slightest increase in temperature will change the make-up of a sea habitat, as fish and crustaceans have ardent requirements for the temperature of their environment for spawning and survival.
It now depends on whether big business and government can keep up with the shift in aquamarine life. “One example is the fishermen in Lofoten and Vesterålen who are losing tens of thousands a week because they do not have a proper facility for receiving a harvest of crabs,” Professor Brattegard told newspaper Aftenposten.
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