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Warming waters due to Climate Change proving fatal for Tiger Sharks

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With the movement and location of tiger sharks changing due to climate change, they could become vulnerable to commercial fishing says a recent study (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@AdekunleAyan)

Climate change studies are throwing up surprising findings and almost of them are alarming for the planet. The latest one is all set to change the future of one of marine life’s top predator, tiger sharks, according to an article in scitechdaily.com.

The University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science led new study has brought to light vital and profound alterations in the timing and locations of movement of tiger shark. This change has taken place in North Atlantic Ocean and is believed to be the result of increase in ocean temperatures. What it means is that these revisions have taken the movements of the sharks outside the protection areas, making them vulnerable to commercial fishing.

Tiger sharks or Galeocerdo cuvier, are the top predators of the warm-temperate and tropical seas. Their natural need has compelled them to remain in warm waters. The US northeast coastline has been naturally and historically not suitable for the tiger sharks because they are very cold but over the last few years, these waters have warmed up enough, making them suitable for the tiger sharks.,

Sharing his views about this, the study’s lead author Neil Hammerschlag, said: “Tiger shark annual migrations have expanded poleward, paralleling rising water temperatures. These results have consequences for tiger shark conservation, since shifts in their movements outside of marine protected areas may leave them more vulnerable to commercial fishing.”

Hammerschlag is the Director of the UM Shark Research and Conservation Program.

These findings by Hammerschlag and his research team are based on hard data. They came across these changes that are climate induced by studying and examining the tracking data from satellite tagged tiger sharks for nine years. This they combined with nearly forty years of conventional tag and recapture information which was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Shark Tagging Program and satellite derived sea-surface temperature data.

Also read: Killer whales can hunt for longer as Arctic ice melts

Highlighting how emphatic the change in temperature on the earth has been, the study observed that during the period of last decade with the temperature in the ocean recorded as the warmest, for every one degree Celsius rise above the average temperature, the migration of the tiger sharks extended towards the pole by nearly 250 miles or 400 kilometres. Besides, this theses fishes also migrated 14 days earlier to waters off the U.S. northeastern coast.

The consequences of these changes can be very significant and far-reaching. Stressing them, Hammerschlag observed: “Given their role as apex predators, these changes to tiger shark movements may alter predator-prey interactions, leading to ecological imbalances, and more frequent encounters with humans.”