Climate Change Might Be Turning Us Into Chesapeake Bay
Fifty of years of data from weekly trawls by fisheries biologists at the
Science Daily reported the other day that the URI scientists have documented a clear, long-term shift in the species that inhabit not just Narragansett Bay but the nearby waters of the
It’s the same kind of shift the Connecticut DEP biologists have seen over 25 years in Long Island Sound. And just as in the Sound, the URI biologists attribute the change to global warming. It was discussed at the Long Island Sound Citizen Summits in 2006 (which I wrote about here) and again in 2008 (read it here).
Here are some excerpts from Science Daily:
According to Jeremy Collie, professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography, the fish community has shifted progressively from vertebrate species (fish) to invertebrates (lobsters, crabs and squid) and from benthic or demersal species -- those that feed on the bottom -- to pelagic species that feed higher in the water column. In addition, smaller, warm-water species have increased while larger, cool-water species have declined.
"This is a pretty dramatic change, and it's a pattern that is being seen in other ecosystems, including offshore on
Collie said that while most of the changes occurred slowly, an abrupt change appeared to take place in 1980 and 1981 when benthic species like winter flounder and silver hake declined and pelagic species including butterfish and bluefish increased. …
… he believes that climate is "the dominant signal." Sea surface temperature in the area of the trawls has increased by 2 degrees Centigrade since 1959, and the preferred temperature of the fish caught in the trawls has also increased by 2 degrees C.
"That seems to be direct evidence of global warming," he said. "It's hard to explain any other way." …
What do these changes mean for the future of
"Our overall prediction is that Narragansett Bay is soon going to resemble estuaries to the south of us -- Delaware Bay,
The Science Daily article is here.
I have no idea if becoming more like Chesapeake Bay is a good thing or a bad thing. I do remember, though, that I've been told more than once that people don't swim in the Chesapeake because there are too many jellyfish. Coincidentally there's a talk tomorrow afternoon at Yale by Dr. Richard Brodeur, of NOAA's
It’s at 1 p.m. in room 102 of the