Water And Oceanography

How changes in Water Level Affects Animal Life



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The water temperatures around the world are rising, as this occurs, the water level also rises. As the each drop of water become warmer they expand. This expansion of each of the drops in the ocean cause the sea levels to rise. At the same time, glaciers are melting, as are the ice sheets, which add additional water into the ocean. If the warming continues by the end of the 21st century, sea levels could be from seven to 23 inches higher than it was at the end of the 20th century. This number could be even higher if ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica continue to melt.

As the water rises, it threatens those that live near the coast. Some areas that are located in low-lying places will experience flooding or some may be come covered with water permanently. This change can also affect the animals around the world as their habitat changes.

Life cycle events

As the water throughout the world warms up, it changes the surrounding environment. This can cause confusion when it comes to animals and certain life cycle events. Some of these could include nesting, migration or mating. Certain animals, such as migratory birds, take their cues from the climate, so if their surroundings are warmer, they may begin migrating sooner. This could lead to a lack of food as they will be spending more time in one area than they did before. If they arrive in an area too soon, the food they would normally need to survive would not be available.

Polar bears

As the sea ice is melting the polar bear is greatly affected. One of the reasons is due to the reduction of the ringed seal in the area. These seals come up through the ice to look for ice caves that contain their pups. As they do this, the polar bear is generally waiting on sea ice to hunt their prey. As the ice is melting, the number of seals is decreasing as are the platforms that the bears would use as their hunting place. This means that polar bears need to spend more time and energy hunting. This additional energy was at one time used to reproduce. This reduction of polar bear cubs has led the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to list the polar bear as a threatened species in 2008.

Sea Turtles

With the climate changes that have occurred, six sea turtles have been placed on the endangered species list: green turtles, hawksbills, loggerheads, Kemp's ridleys, Olive ridleys and leatherbacks.

The dwindling numbers of sea turtles is primarily due to climate changes. The females place their eggs in the sand along beaches before they head back into the sea. These beaches have slowly been eroding because of rising sea-levels. This means that many of these turtles have to find nesting places in areas where man, or animals are a threat.

Another way that the climate change, due to the rising water temperature, affects the turtles, is it makes the sand too warm for the eggs to incubate. It also changes the likelihood of the eggs that survive to be female. There could come a time when there will be no males produced if the temperature rises just one degree Celsius.

North Atlantic right whales

The North Atlantic right whales can be found in an area from Nova Scotia to the southeastern United States. Their migration route takes them along the Atlantic Coast. Climate change has caused these whales to go from the protected list in 1935 to the endangered species in the 1970s. The right whale relies on the Calanus funmarchicus, a crustacean zoo plankton, for its main food. The females need this tiny animal to help prepare for giving birth. As the numbers of their food source decreases,the females cannot carry a pregnancy the entire term or produce the milk the baby needs to survive. The reduction of this zooplankton is related to the changes in its habitat. They live where ocean currents converge. As the temperatures of the water, or its currents, changes the zoo plankton colony will move.

These are just a few examples of animals that rely on steady water levels. As the levels change, these predators and their prey will continue to decrease in number.



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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/ecosystems.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/climate_change/effects_on_ocean_animals.php
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/climate_change/effects_on_ocean_animals.php
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/climate_change/effects_on_ocean_animals.php