A record breaking heat-wave has hit the coasts of South Florida, with temperatures rising to over 100º Fahrenheit in the last couple of weeks in July. In addition to much warmer afternoons, this natural catastrophe has led to concerns about the impacts intense heat can have on the environment and marine life.
Florida’s temperatures have been increasing since early April, but have skyrocketed during the summer. This past Fourth of July was the hottest ever recorded on the West Coast of Florida. Meanwhile ocean temperatures have averaged more than five degrees higher than normal. This has raised concerns among professionals about the seemingly never-ending rising temperatures.
Pat Malloy, a field instructor in the Marine Lab from Key Largo, has said that he’s found countless dead animals and invertebrates in the mangroves of the Keys. “I’ve seen more dead sea urchins and other marine life in the mangrove soils than I would like to have, and I’ve noticed the effect the heat has had on the animals,” Malloy said. “It’s not a good sign of what is to come with global warming.”
Additionally, Marie Laukaitis, the creative manager of marine lab, has commented feverishly on the effect the rising temperatures has had on coral. “Coral bleaching has taken so many of the beautiful colors of the reefs,” she said. “It’s such a shame as the temperatures keep rising.” Coral bleaching occurs when coral releases algae found in its tissue, due to it becoming toxic in warm environments. The coral becomes white as a result. Along with coral bleaching, coral has actually died, which raises concerns about habitat loss. This loss of coral reefs can leave those who depend on the reef, such as sponges and fish, vulnerable to coming storms. These drastic effects of the rising heat have caused marine life death and destruction. Sea temperatures continue to rise as the summer grows longer and hotter, which begs the question of what could happen to these environments.