Friday 22 December 2023
With a marine heatwave underway off the NSW south coast, Victorian coast and east coast of Tasmania, the Bureau of Meteorology has predicted sea temperatures could reach 2.5 degrees above average this summer which would wreak havoc on fragile kelp ecosystems.
Kelp forests cover one third of the world's coastlines, are vital to ocean food chains and the life cycle of hundreds of aquatic species, including species in some of our major fisheries. Despite this they're largely missing from international environmental governance regimes. CSIRO also has this information on the current marine heatwave.
Kelp forests are a key part of the Great Southern Reef, a huge series of reefs along Australia’s southern coastline. The Great Southern Reef media hub has quotes from experts and broadcast quality vision and high-res images available to journalists through its Great Southern Reef media hub. An interview with marine biologist Dr Scott Bennett is also available on this link for use on broadcast TV news (direct download link here)
Dr Scott Bennett, marine ecologist at IMAS, University of Tasmania, is an expert on the impacts climate change has on temperate reefs, specifically the disappearance of the giant kelp forests around Tasmania’s coasts, which Scott is fighting to save. Scott leads the Great Southern Reef Research Partnership - a collaboration of scientists, managers and NGOs across Australia working to safeguard the Great Southern Reef. Scott is passionate about the role this social-ecological system plays within Australia and the threats it faces from climate change. Location: Adelaide, SA
Ocean scientist Professor Gretta Pecl, Director for the Centre for Marine Socioecology at the University of Tasmania and author of the Australian ocean section of the latest IPCC report, said:
“The scientific community is extremely concerned about the Great Southern Reef. CSIRO’s declaration of a marine heatwave for the NSW south coast is devastating but not surprising. With a warming climate and forecasts of unprecedented and 'off the charts' marine heat this summer, our marine ecosystems are at risk of utter devastation.
“We’re observing the transformation of the oceans in real time, as marine species move to survive. In Australia, at least 200 marine species have shifted since 2003, with the vast majority headed south. As waters warm further south, many will have nowhere left to go.
“While climate change has already caused extensive change to our oceans – and we’ll continue to see devastating impacts for decades – stronger action by governments to reign in fossil fuels right now can limit future harms and ensure more species and ecosystems are given a fighting chance. Scientists agree: the single most important action we can take now is to leave fossil fuels in the polluting past – and it has to happen this decade." - not available for interviews.
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