Alaska Fish and Game authorities recently decided to cancel the snow crab fishery for the second year in a row due to the disappearance of a massive number of crabs from the Bering Sea, he wrote. CNN.
Bering Sea It is a marine region in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, located between Siberia in the west, Alaska in the east, and the Aleutian Islands in the south.
Since 2021, discouraging reports of declining snow crab numbers have begun to emerge, and in subsequent years, we are talking about billions of individuals simply lost in the eastern Bering Sea around Alaska.
Just days after authorities canceled this year’s snow crab hunt, scientists appear to have found the answer to the crab mystery, in a study published Thursday this week in the scientific journal Sciences.
– When I saw the data for 2021, it was just a mess in my head. Everyone was hoping that was a mistake, and that we would see more crabs next year, says fisheries biologist and lead author of the study, Cody Szwalski.
So it didn’t work out that way.
The cancers are gone, but at least scientists have found an explanation.
Marine heat wave
The researchers wanted to know why the cancers were disappearing, and they envisioned two scenarios. The snow crabs have either moved or died.
They headed north, headed west toward Russian waters. Researchers also examined deep sea levels, but to no avail.
There was no indication that the crabs had moved.
Therefore, widespread crab die-off became the leading hypothesis.
Ultimately, the researchers were able to conclude that warmer sea temperatures may have caused the snow crabs to starve to death.
These crabs live mostly in areas where the water temperature is below 2 degrees Celsius, although they can live in water up to 12 degrees Celsius.
The only problem is that warm seawater affects the crabs’ metabolism, making them need more calories. Therefore, they become hungrier.
In 2018, a two-year marine heatwave began, resulting in snow crabs needing four times as many calories as the previous year. The warmer water simply meant that the crabs were struggling to find enough food, and yes, they may have starved to death.
The climate crisis is accelerating
The researchers point out that the marine heat wave significantly reduced the ice coverage in the ocean area.
– It probably made up 4 percent of the ice cover we’ve seen historically. What’s happening to Alaska’s crabs is evidence that the climate crisis is accelerating rapidly and affecting the foundations of life, Szwalski says.
The researcher adds that he “did not expect this to happen so quickly.”
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