Ocean Warming Disrupts Shark Ecology: Unprecedented Heat Shifts Behavior and Feeding Patterns


In most tales—factual or fictional—Sharks have been portrayed as the bad guys. However, these aquatic, boneless apex predators are also misunderstood victims as the planet’s climate and seas quickly change.  They are under extreme environmental stress, but historically, they have been capable of amazing responses.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, sharks are among the most endangered marine animals on the globe, with 37% of the world’s shark and ray species at risk of becoming extinct owing to overfishing, habitat loss, and the climate crisis.

In addition, as ocean temperatures rise, many sharks are reportedly starting to alter their habits, including where they dwell, what they consume, and how they spawn. These changes might have a ripple impact on the rest of the marine environment.

Heike Zidowitz, shark and ray specialist at the World Wildlife Fund-Germany, told CNN that sharks and rays are interesting creatures that have been misunderstood and unappreciated for far too long since they are crucial to the health of the seas.

In addition to being a terrible loss, the extinction of these lovely critters from our waters would lead to ocean imbalances that would have far-reaching effects on the ecology.

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Sharks on the Move

This year, the seas have warmed to record levels. This startling temperature rise shows no signs of abating. 

In March, rising ocean surface temperatures started to worry experts. Then, in April, temperatures shot up to record highs, forcing experts to evaluate the heat’s potentially disastrous knock-on consequences.

Sharks, like most other animals, require specific environments to survive. Temperature variations have a big impact on how fish breathe, digest food, develop, and reproduce, according to ecophysiologist and biomechanist Valentina Di Santo. Because of this, these agile water critters are deviating from their typical routes and exploring unexplored, usually challenging areas.

According to Di Santo’s research, these physiological processes for sharks in particular accelerate when ocean temperatures rise, doubling in speed every 10 degrees.

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Source: CNN

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