Ocean life in store for large-scale extinction

By on January 23, 2015
Gray whale breaching. (Credit: NOAA)

A study led by scientists at the University of California has found that the world’s oceans may be in store for a large-scale extinction, according to the New York Times. Their work compares the environmental degradation that humans have caused on terrestrial areas in the past and forecasts similar types of effects from human activities on marine life.

Current ocean trends, like ocean acidification and expanded industrial activity, suggest that ocean life will continue to suffer, researchers say. Habitat degradation, though offset occasionally by the creation of marine reserves, is still likely to be the major driver for losses to aquatic life.

“If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” said Malin Pinsky, marine biologist at Rutgers University and one of the study’s authors to the New York Times. “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to the oceans.”

Still, there is time to avoid the kinds of losses that the scientists foresee. Compared with land on Earth, most of the oceans are still untouched enough by human influence to make a comeback to full health, researchers say.

Top image: Gray whale breaching. (Credit: NOAA)

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