Science

Whales Affected As Climate Warms And Ice Melts

By Rodney Rafols , Nov 19, 2016 12:07 AM EST
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Climate change affects everyone on Earth. Marine life is especially affected as the oceans also become warm. A study shows that whales might be vulnerable to this. Whales are affected as the climate warms and ice melts in the poles.

Whales who make the Arctic their home during the summer months are greatly affected. There is much study about ice in the poles slowly melting as the climate warms. The loss of habitat could very well disrupt whales as they try to adapt to a changing world.

What is most disrupted for whales are their migration patterns. A study made by researchers from Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute together with scientists working with hunters from Alaska and Canada have shown that beluga whale migration has changed. Whales coming in to cool off during the summer months have been affected by the changes.

By and large scientists still do not know what is the relationship between polar ice and whale migration. The decline in sea ice might provide a clue on how this affects whale migration, but it is also one where urgency is needed, argued Greg O'Corry-Crowe, the lead author for the study and research professor at Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch. This shift in migration pattern has also brought in a large number of killer whales, who are considered as predators on beluga whales.

The study used genetic profiling, or fingerprinting, to find out the origin of the whales' migration as well as when they return to their migration point, according to Florida Atlantic University's site. Through this they have compiled beluga sightings as well as data on the variations of their return to the Arctic. They also got much data on how much ice has changed for the time period from 1979 to 2014.

As the study has observed, one effect that the changing migration pattern is that beluga whales are more open to predation, especially from killer whales. As sea ice melts, it is bringing with it more predators that are much more used to warmer water. This has much consequence as well for the ecosystem as well as the communities that are dependent on the sea, as Science Daily reports.

As our climate changes, its effects can be felt in many ways. This is most true for whales, as whales are affected as the climate warms and ice melts. There could be some hope, as researchers are also looking into Caribbean corals which are resistant to climate change.

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