Heat stroke: corals to south coast

19-09-2018 by admin

The pin-up child for climate change might be the Great Barrier Reef, but the south coast is also feeling the heat.

Marine ecology professor David Booth of theUniversity of Technology Sydney has been studying the impact of climate change in our region for over 15 years, with data recording adefinite trend.

“The East Australian Current (EAC) is strengthening and this is climate change related,” Professor Booth said on Monday May 16.

“Tropical species are using this current to travel further south. Certain groups like surgeon fish have had a huge increase over the past few years in the Eden/Merimbula area, and 2016 has been a particularly big year for butterfly and damsel fish as well as many new species we haven’tseen in this area before.”

Professor Booth said water temperatures need to stay above 17 degrees for most tropical species to survive winter and establish themselves, butan invasion of sorts has already begun.

“Urchins have come down with climate change and have destroyed kelp beds,” Professor Booth said.“Ironically, tropical fish prefer this bare boulderhabitat, but sadly it’s at the expense of the kelp which many southern fish speciesrely upon.”

Professor Booth said Eden sits “right on the edge of Australia’s productive fisheries” but climate change is driving coolwatersand good fisheries away from NSW.

“So unfortunately the future of commercial fisheries will be grim in that part of the world, where it has always been so good.”

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