Alaskan Waters Warming: Billions of Snow Crabs Starve to Death

Oct 25, 2023

Global Climate Change Implicated in Mass Snow Crab Deaths

By Global Times

In recent years, billions of snow crabs have vanished from the waters near the state of Alaska in the United States, and scientists have now identified a culprit behind this massive loss: rising ocean temperatures.

According to a report by CNN on the 20th, a study conducted by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has revealed that ocean heatwaves in the eastern Bering Sea are causing a significant number of snow crabs to die due to starvation. This study points out that snow crabs are cold-water species, with the majority living in areas where water temperatures are below 2 degrees Celsius. Warm seawater severely disrupts the metabolism of snow crabs and increases their food requirements. Due to the high temperatures, most of the food web in the Bering Sea has been disrupted, making it challenging for snow crabs to find sustenance for their survival.

Furthermore, the typical temperature barriers present in the oceans prevent certain species that live in warmer waters from reaching the extremely cold habitats of snow crabs. However, during periods of warming ocean waters, other species like Pacific cod migrate to the areas inhabited by snow crabs in search of food, compounding the problems faced by the starving snow crab populations.

This alarming situation underscores the profound impact of global climate change on marine ecosystems, as warming seas disrupt the natural habitats and food sources of cold-water species like snow crabs. The decline of the snow crab population in Alaskan waters is a stark example of the broader challenges posed by climate change to marine life worldwide. It serves as a reminder of the urgent need for international action to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect our oceans and their fragile ecosystems.


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