In the Salish Sea, between British Columbia and Washington State, over a billion marine animals have been killed in the extreme heat wave that is affecting several areas of North America. In Canada, the highest temperature ever recorded in the country was close to 50 ° C.
Live “cooked” mussels melted by extreme temperatures in Canada. Credit: Chris Harley / University of British Columbia / CBC
The infernal temperatures that are hitting North America have exterminated at least one billion marine animals in the Salish Sea, an offshoot of thePacific Ocean located between the British Columbia (Canada) and the US state of Washington. Along the coasts of this thriving body of water that embraces the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Puget Sound – a spectacular network of canals – a nauseating smell, due to the enormous biomass of decomposing creatures, cooked alive and killed by unsustainable temperatures, in some cases well above 40° C.
To understand how dramatic the situation in Canada is, just think that in recent days the Coroners Service of British Columbia announced that between 25 June and 1 July in the province they suddenly died well 777 people. According to experts, it was precisely theextreme heat wave which hit Northwest America, caused by a “heat dome” – daughter of the climate changes – which made it reach record temperatures. In the town of Lytton, later destroyed by a fire, the 50° C: mai la mercury column she had risen so much in Canada. But there are many Canadian and US territories overlooking the Pacific Ocean that have reached dramatic highs in recent days. As was easy to guess, the frenzied temperatures did slaughter of animals. Those who live in it pay the highest price intertidale zone (O piano mesolitorale), that is, that coastal stretch strongly influenced by tides. The organisms that live in this peculiar ecosystem when there is low tide they are exposed to the sun and, if the temperatures have an average of 10-15 ° C higher than the maximum they can bear for short periods, they are destined to succumb en masse.
To sound the alarm about the catastrophic consequences of the heat wave on marine animals was Professor Chris Harley, professor of marine biology at the University of British Columbia. The scientist traveled with his students to several seaside beaches in Salish, from Kitsilano Beach in West Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast. Wherever he went he found nothing but an expanse of rotting organisms and an unbearable smell. To make the most of it bivalve molluscs that live attached to the rocks like the mussels, exposed to the infernal temperatures of the heat dome without being able to move. But many have also lost their lives balani, clams, sea snails, place marine and other invertebrates. “A mussel on the shore is somehow like a baby left in a car on a hot day,” Professor Harley told The Starr and CBC News. “It’s stuck there until the parent comes back, or in this case, until the tide comes back. There is very little they can do. I’m at the mercy of the environment. And on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, during the heat wave, it got so hot that there was nothing the mussels could do, ”the expert added. Their flesh has heated up so much that it peels off and melts in the shells left open wide.
The scientist explained that about two thousand mussels can fit in the size of a hob; considering the size of the habitat overlooking the Salish Sea, the number of animals that died from the heat wave is simply immense and most likely underestimated. To make the impact of this even more dramatic ecological disaster also the consequent reduction of the quality of sea water, bearing in mind that mussels and other molluscs of the intertidal environment are filtratori. Due to the extreme atmospheric temperatures it has risen well 3° C also that of the sea water around Vancouver Island, an impressive change that can affect all marine organisms.
The depressing spectacle that unfolded before the eyes of the experts has been defined disconcertingbut by no means unexpected, as Dr Chris Neufeld, a researcher at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Center on Vancouver Island, told CBC: “It was very disheartening to realize that we are in this moment that we had long predicted.” The risk is that with continuous heat waves of this kind, increasingly frequent and intense due to global warming, the coast may no longer be able to support the populations of filtering organisms, with a dramatic impact for the whole marine ecosystem. The only way to prevent more disasters, scientists explain, is to fight climate change by reducing it carbon emissions in the atmosphere.