Indian Ocean may be turning into an ecological desert, all thanks to global warming. From local fishermen to subject experts, all opine that sea life in the Indian Ocean is being affected due to rising temperatures.
As per Roxy Mathew Koll, a scientist at the Centre for Climate Change Research at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune, rapid warming in the Indian Ocean has led to a reduction in phytoplankton (microscopic organisms which are a key factor for oceans, seas, and freshwater bodies). Warming Indian Ocean has reduced phytoplankton count by up to 20%.
Phytoplankton are actually fish fodder that exist in the upper layer of nearly all the oceans and fresh water bodies. Any change in the number of phytoplankton disturbs the food chain. As a result, an extremely productive region (in terms of biology) is gradually turning into an ecological desert.
Waters in the Indian Ocean have witnessed a rise of 1.2 degrees Celsius over the last century. This has slowed down the fusion of surface water and deeper waters that are rich in nutrients. Phytoplankton fail to receive the required nutrients and thus are falling in numbers.
This drastic change is a challenge for food security in countries bordering the Indian Ocean. Also, global fish markets will also feel the pinch as trade and commerce takes a hit.
Local fishermen too revealed that going fishing has become more challenging now. They spend more time out in the ocean in search of fish. Areas where fishes could be found since decades don’t hold any ‘meat’ for the local fishermen anymore.
The marine ecosystem in the Indian Ocean is now under threat. Global warming will continue to wipe out the phytoplankton in the region and the impact will be felt by all. 20 per cent of the global tuna catch comes from the Indian Ocean. Many other socio-economic factors come into play when we speak of warming Indian Ocean waters. Global warming, meanwhile, continues to take its toll.
(Featured Image Credit: nature.com)