US losses Billions of Crabs to Global Warming
By Obiabin Onukwugha
Warmer ocean temperatures have caused the sudden and shocking disappearance of billions of snow crabs in Alaska, United States of America.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announced this in a study released at the weekend.
NOAA said the shortage of the snow crabs, appeared to be one of the largest reported losses of motile marine macrofauna to marine heatwaves globally.
NOAA in the report, described the deaths of the crabs as a product of the climate crisis since the ocean absorbs 90% of the excess heat associated with global warming.
It said that the Alaskan commercial fishing industry is valued at over $150m but that with fewer snow crabs, revenue has been slashed and financial pressure has been placed on those who make a living out of it.
Reports say the Arctic temperatures have warmed four times faster than those of the rest of the planet.
According to the NOAA, the lack of sea ice due to global warming contributed to the decline in the arctic species, which matures in cold pools on the ocean floor. It further said less ice combined with warmer waters made much of the snow crabs’ habitat inhospitable, making way for many to die off.
“The eastern Bering Sea snow crabs, once thought to be overfished, actually starved to death en masse because the change in water temperature increased their caloric needs considerably.
The years 2018 and 2019 saw record-breaking ocean temperatures, which at first led to a boom in the snow crab population before it quickly plummeted. Then 2022 saw a sharp decline of 10 million crab.
“Marine heatwave, which occurs when ocean temperatures are persistently and anomalously warm, causes stress to corals and other marine ecosystems, leaving sea life vulnerable and causing chaos across food chains.
“The snow crab stock shortage has economic consequences. The crabs play a vital role in the Alaskan commercial fishing industry valued at over $150m. With fewer snow crabs, revenue has been slashed and financial pressure has been placed on those who make a living out of it.
“For the first time, the Alaska department of fish and game closed crucial Bering Sea snow crab harvests in 2022, leaving crab fishers out in the cold,” said the NOAA study.