SYDNEY, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Australian researchers report they’re seeing significant changes in the distribution of coastal fish species they say are partly due to climate change.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization scientists have identified 43 species, representing about 30 percent of the inshore fish families occurring in Australia’s southeast coastal waters, that exhibited shifts thought to be climate-related, the group said in a release.
These include species such as silver drummer and rock blackfish that are breeding and have become more abundant, and range increases in snapper and rock flathead.
There also is a greater abundance of warm water tuna and billfishes and occasional visits from Queensland groper and tiger sharks, the researchers say.
“Shifts in the distribution of marine animals in response to climate change can be detrimental to some species,” Peter Last, curator of the Australian National Fish Collection, said.
“The problem is that in southern Tasmania, shallow cold water species have nowhere to escape warmer conditions in the sea.”
Last says southeastern Australia is a climate change hot spot with well-documented changes already occurring over the past 70 years, including southward penetration of the East Australian Current by about 200 miles and a temperature rise of almost 3 1/2 degrees Fahrenheit.
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