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Mon Nov 11, 2019, 12:33 AM

Marine Mammal Epidemic Linked to Climate Change

Marine Mammal Epidemic Linked to Climate Change
By Christopher Intagliata on November 9, 2019

An adult male ribbon seal lays on the ice. Credit: NOAA Fisheries, Polar Ecosystems Program

A measles-like virus is ricocheting through marine mammal populations in the Arctic—and melting sea ice might be to blame. Christopher Intagliata reports.

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Meaning more and more sea ice is melting every year.

"It's really concerning, the rapid loss of sea ice up there, for a lot of reasons."

Tracey Goldstein, a researcher and conservationist at UC Davis. She says one of those reasons is, animals like ice seals need the ice, to haul out on and give birth. Another reason? As the Arctic warms, the fish the seals eat may be moving to deeper and colder waters. So the seals have to travel farther to hunt them.

"So the combination of all of that over time is probably going to affect their health and their body condition and that will make them not just underweight but also more susceptible to other diseases."


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