North Sea fish population declines as water warms, says new study

For the first time, those meddling scientists have found a direct link between warming seas and dying fish. A heated habitat leads to rapid population decline for the eelpout, a shallow bottom-dweller in the North Sea, according to a decade-long German study recently published in Science. Warm water contains less oxygen, a gas that is helpful for such fish-friendly tasks as “being ready to prey, grow, move, and reproduce,” says researcher Hans Pörtner. Eelpouts have relatively few young and generally do not migrate, even to seek cooler waters; soon, though, they may need to relocate or die, scientists say. Temperatures in the area of the North Sea that was studied have risen by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 40 years, and some estimates predict a further rise of 7.2 degrees in the coming century. Zoarces viviparus (really, could that name get any better?) is an indicator species for the general health of cold-water seas — and it’s indicating that global warming still sucks.