Imagine you are sitting on the beach with your family. You watch as the vast waves calmly travel to and from the shore. The light blue water of the ocean turns darker as the water continues to stretch on. The beauty of the ocean is unfathomable. The sea is home to thousands of different marine species. The friendly interaction between the sea, human, and marine life will not remain forever. Life for these marine species and people near coastal areas is negatively changing over time.
Humans are increasingly burning an extreme amount of fossil fuels. These fossil fuels emit an immense amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs heat from atmospheric greenhouse gases. This causes the temperature of the sea to rise. As ocean temperature continues to increase, the effects on human life along with marine life, are devastating. There has been drastic growth in the temperature of the world’s oceans. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Sea surface temperatures have been consistently higher during the past three decades than at any other time since reliable observations began in the late 1800s (Climate Change Indicators: Oceans).
Oceans heat has continued to increase by immense amounts since the 1950s (Environmental Protection Agency). Marine life has not fully adapted to the increased amount of heat in the ocean. One of the species that is tragically harmed by the escalating ocean temperatures is phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are protists, bacteria, or single-celled plants. They are most commonly single-celled plants. Phytoplankton are light-driven creatures that have to partake in annual growth cycles. The yearly growth cycle has to change due to high ocean temperatures. The yearly growth cycle must start earlier on during the year because of the temperature increase. Phytoplankton are not used to beginning their annual growth cycles earlier than they usually do. There is then a risk that Phytoplankton will not adapt to the earlier start of their yearly growth cycle. This is only one of the ways that the substantial ocean temperature rise harms phytoplankton. Species that are in the same food chain as phytoplankton are harmed by the temperature changes in the ocean. Nutrients travel to the sea surface in certain temperatures. Phytoplankton and algae consume these nutrients to survive. When the ocean temperatures increase, nutrients struggle to rise to the sea surface. Without the intake of the nutrients on the sea surface, phytoplankton and algae struggle to survive. A lack of phytoplankton and algae in the ocean will harm both of these species food chains. Zooplankton eat phytoplankton. Zooplankton will struggle to find food due to the lack of phytoplankton. This will provide difficulty in zooplankton survival. Whales, shellfish, birds, and different species of fish eat Zooplankton. All of these marine animals will have a hard time finding food due to the decrease in the amount of zooplankton. Now whales, shellfish, birds, and species of fish will find it harder to survive. Zooplankton consume algae. Zooplankton will find it harder to survive due to the smaller amount of algae in the sea. Small fish eat zooplankton. This fish will have a harder chance at survival due to the lack of zooplankton. Squid eat small fish. Squid will have to try and find other food sources to survive. Sharks consume squid. The lack of squid in the ocean harms the sharks. The lack of algae and phytoplankton in the ocean negatively affects nine different marine species. Numerous consequences rise as the ocean temperature skyrockets. One of the major downfalls is increased ocean acidity. As the ocean temperature rises in large amounts, the amount of ocean acidity rises along with it. According to the article A Discordant Sea: Global Warming and its Effect on Marine Populations, Increased ocean acidity also threatens marine life, such as corals and shellfish, which may become extinct later this century from the chemical effects of carbon dioxide (Lindell). There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The sea takes in this carbon dioxide, and the carbon dioxide dissolves. As carbon dioxide settles in the ocean, the sea becomes more acidic. The amount of carbon in the ocean is an unsafe amount. The increased amount of carbon negatively affects the chemistry of the ocean. The amount of ocean acidity hurts marine species, including coral and shellfish. Carbonate ions in the ocean are used to help coral and shellfish build their skeletons. The carbonate ions began to dissolve as there is a higher amount of ocean acidity. Shellfish and coral do not have enough carbonate ions to aid them when building their skeletons. These two species’ skeletons become weaker. Over time, these species could die off since due to the weakness of their skeletons. Ocean acidity makes the seawater unsafe and unethical for marine species to survive in. The ocean temperature continues to increase over time drastically. Humans continue to burn more fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The ocean will absorb the heat given off by the greenhouse gases. All of the animals in phytoplankton and algae’s food chains are struggling to find food. Phytoplankton find it hard to adapt to the heat increase. The annual growth cycle that phytoplankton partake in has to start earlier in the year due to temperature changses. Phytoplankton stuggle to adapt to this change. When ocean temperatures increase, ocean acidity increases along with it. As ocean acidity rises, species such as coral and shellfish have difficulty buillding their skeletons. The temperature of the ocean harms human life as well as