Cephalopods thrive in warm oceans
Cephalopods thrive in warm oceans, according to a new study by Australian researchers. The scientists have discovered that cephalopods such as octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish have been thriving despite “unchecked carbon emissions into the atmosphere and other human actions” that have hurt many other marine species.
Cephalopods thrive in warm oceans despite climate change and man-made disasters like oil spills, according to experts.
The study on cephalopods’ capacity to survive in a changing environment was led by Bronwyn Gillanders, a marine biologist at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, with the help of researchers from all over the world.
The study was published this week in the journal Current Biology. According to experts, a cephalopod is:
“.. any member of the molluscan class Cephalopoda which are characterized by bilateral body symmetry, a prominent head, and a set of arms or tentacles modified from the primitive molluscan foot. The class now contains two: Coleoidea, which includes octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish; and Nautiloidea, represented by Nautilus and Allonautilus. In the Coleoidea, the molluscan shell has been internalized or is absent, whereas in the Nautiloidea, the external shell remains. About 800 living species of cephalopods have been identified.”
The scientists have gathered data from 1953 to 2013 (cephalopod catch rates) and looked at 35 cephalopod species to discover that the number of cephalopods in the ocean has grown significantly all over the world over the last six decades.
The biologists concluded that cephalopods have a unique set of traits that not only allow them to survive, but thrive in a changing environment, which includes El Niño, global warming, rampant pollution, and unchecked carbon emission into the atmosphere. Gillanders had the following explanation on how the species have been surviving:
“Cephalopods are known for rapid growth, short lifespans, and extra-sensitive physiologies, which may allow them to adapt more quickly than many other marine species.”
As a matter of fact, cephalopods are not only adapting; they are increasing. Zoe Doubleday, of Australia’s Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, HH went on explain:
“Surprisingly, analyses revealed that cephalopods as a whole are in fact increasin….and since this study, cuttlefish numbers from this iconic population near Whyalla are luckily bouncing back.”
“The consistency was the biggest surprise. Cephalopods are notoriously variable, and population abundance can fluctuate wildly, both within and among species. The fact that we observed consistent, long-term increases in three diverse groups of cephalopods, which inhabit everything from rock pools to open oceans, is remarkable.”
Gillanders noted in the paper that after the El Niño and La Niña phenomena of 1997-98, the population of Humboldt squid were affected and they adapted by moving 100 miles north of their usual territory and by breeding much earlier than normal.
However, the researchers were unable to answer the following questions: How many more cephalopods are there today compared to the 1950s? What are the ecological and socio-economic ramifications associated with this increase in cephalopods?
Yes, cephalopod populations across the world are increasing as sea temperatures rise, but it is hard to predict what will happen to the creatures if fishing pressure continues to grow.
Doubleday says that they are going to investigate the factors responsible for cephalopods’ proliferation. She said:
“It is a difficult, but important, question to answer, as it may tell us an even bigger story about how human activities are changing the ocean.”
The researcher concluded with a warning:
“…population dynamics are notoriously difficult to predict and human activities may have a deleterious effect on cephalopod populations”.
What are your thoughts on cephalopods’ reaction to global warming?