Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Seaweed-Free Beaches Predicted as Oceans Warm

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Rapid warming of Western Australia’s coastal waters could see its beaches free of stinking piles of seaweed in what could become a test case for more slowly warming waters elsewhere.

New research from Edith Cowan University’s Centre of Marine Ecosystems investigated the potential shift of species of marine life as ocean temperatures warm with climate change. Lead researcher A/Prof Glenn Hyndes said one of the potential impacts of the process, known as tropicalisation, is the movement of herbivorous fish species south from sub-tropical waters.

“What’s likely to happen as these species move south with warming waters is that they could start foraging on the different species of seagrass found around the south-west of Western Australia,” he said. “This increased foraging could decimate those local species, meaning there’s nothing washing up on our beaches.

“That might sound like it’s good news,especially if you live near one of those beaches where seagrass wash up regularly – also known as ‘wrack’. But it would have disastrous consequences for the coastal ecosystems in those areas which rely on the nutrients and habitat provided by the wrack to survive.”

Hyndes and colleagues used information on projected sea temperature rises to predict the distribution of species of seagrass, fish, turtles and dugong in 2100. “We predict that that change in sea...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.