Top Ocean Predators Losing Habitat

Written by on September 26, 2012 in Marine Life, Physical Oceanography
The loggerhead sea turtle will face major challenges with changes in habitat. Photo credit: Marco Giuliano/Fondazione Cetacea/NOAA

The loggerhead sea turtle will face major challenges with changes in habitat. Photo credit: Marco Giuliano/Fondazione Cetacea/NOAA

A new study found that top ocean predators in the Pacific Ocean could lose up to 35 percent of their habitat by the end of the century.  The study was conducted by a team of American and Canadian researchers who analyzed ten years of open-ocean animal tracking data.

Using the data from over 4,300 animals, they predicted that changes in temperature would also change the areas these predators depend on for food and shelter–some up to 600 miles.

Lead author and scientist with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Elliott Hazen explains that the animals will “have to travel farther and farther every year just to get to their food.”

These predicted changes have the largest impact on endangered species, like blue whales and loggerhead turtles that already require more protection, and predators that only live in a narrow temperature range, like blue and mako sharks.  Contrary, species that are adaptable or highly mobile, like tuna and many seabirds, may actually benefit from temperature changes.

To learn more:

Two blue whales. The blue whale is an endangered species and will be particularly vulnerable to shifts in habitat. Photo credit: A. Lombardi/NOAA.

Two blue whales. The blue whale is an endangered species and will be particularly vulnerable to shifts in habitat. Photo credit: A. Lombardi/NOAA.

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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