A big hot spot of water, known as a "marine heat wave," has reached the waters of British Columbia in Canada. People are worried about how this hot water could affect the animals and plants that live in the ocean. This hot water started forming far away from the coast in May. Recently, it moved closer to British Columbia and Oregon. It covers a huge area, about four million square kilometers. The water on the surface has become much warmer than usual, which is causing worries among scientists.
These marine heat waves happen when the weather gets warmer, and the wind on the ocean becomes calmer. This makes the top layer of the water become thinner and heat up quickly. This time, the water got so warm that the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it's an "extreme" event, meaning it's very serious.
These heat waves are not new, but they are becoming more common and stronger because of climate change. They can also be found in other parts of the world's oceans, like the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the North Atlantic.
The problem with this heat wave is that it can cause problems for the animals and plants that live in the ocean. Warmer water can have less oxygen, which is like the air we breathe. This can make it hard for marine animals to find enough food. It can also bring in new types of animals and things like germs that the animals in British Columbia might not be used to. In the past, another hot event in 2021 caused many sea creatures to die along the coast. However, there are signs that some animals like seaweed and shellfish are starting to recover. Usually, these hot water events go away by October, but this one might stay longer because of something called "El Niño." El Niño is a weather pattern that makes the Pacific Ocean warmer and can cause unusual weather.
Source: Michelle G. (Aug 15, 2023). A Pacific marine heat wave has arrived in B.C. waters. Here's what it means for ocean life. CBC. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/pacific-marine-heat-wave-1.6936075