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November 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Tropical Fish Are Heading for the Poles

from the November, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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When marine ecologist Adriana Vergs emerged from a dive in southern Japan's Tosa Bay, she was amazed at what she saw: once-lush kelp forest been stripped bare and replaced by coral. Tosa Bay is hundreds of miles north of the tropics, but now "it feels like a tropical place," said Vergs.

The undersea world is on the move. Climate change is propelling ocean life into what used to be cooler waters, and researchers are finding that the repercussions of tropical fish migration are often devastating. Invading tropical species are stripping kelp forests in Japan, Australia, and the eastern Mediterranean, and chowing down on sea grass in the northern Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic seaboard. "The faunas are mixing, and nobody can see what the outcome will be," said Ken Heck, a marine scientist at the University of South Alabama. But the consequences of that mixing are already trickling up the food chain....

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