“Who hears the fishes when they cry?” — Henry David Thoreau’
Ocean temperatures around the Florida Keys hit an unprecedented 101.1 degrees this July, resulting in the worst coral bleaching in the reef system’s history. There will also likely be an intensification of this year’s hurricane season due to the hot tub like ocean conditions.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is reporting that 44% of the world’s oceans are experiencing marine heat waves right now, and that figure is expected to pass 50% by September (again, unprecedented).
A warming ocean means rising sea levels because of thermal expansion and melting glaciers. Projections of up to 3 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century now seem quaint given NOAA’s latest projections: up to 7 feet, if we continue on our current course of inaction.
The ocean’s warmer waters are also accelerating diseases and infections among marine wildlife ranging from fish to sea stars to whales. In late July close to 100 pilot whales formed a heart-shaped cluster before stranding and dying (or having to be euthanized) on a beach in Australia.
One certainty is that the ocean, the crucible of life, driver of climate and weather, and generator of oxygen, no longer has the capacity to absorb the existential danger we have created. The ocean will endure, of course, just not as I knew it as a 15-year-old swimming in a living sea of wonder.
Read more of David Helvarg’s article in the Los Angeles Times.