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Climate change is making baby sharks smaller, undernourished and exhausted

January 12, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 48.4%. 2 min read.

Baby sharks are being born smaller, undernourished and exhausted as climate change warms the world's oceans, researchers say.

(CNN)Baby sharks are being born smaller, undernourished and exhausted as climate change warms the world's oceans, researchers say.

Researchers examined the effects of warming temperatures on the growth, development and physiology of the Great Barrier Reef's epaulette sharks, testing embryos and hatchlings in waters up to 31 degrees Celsius (87. 8 degrees Fahrenheit).

The creatures hatched earlier, were born smaller, and needed to feed straight away, but lacked energy, researchers from Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University and the University of Massachusetts said Tuesday.

"The epaulette shark is known for its resilience to change, even to ocean acidification," Jodie Rummer, co-author and associate professor at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said in a statement.

Rummer said that rising ocean temperatures could threaten future sharks, including egg-laying and live-bearing species, because as temperatures rise, the creatures will be born or hatch into environments that they can barely tolerate.

"The study presents a worrying future given that sharks are already threatened," lead author Carolyn Wheeler said in a statement.

Without predators, whole ecosystems can collapse, which is why we need to keep studying and protecting these creatures," Wheeler, a PhD candidate at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, added.

Oceans serve as a good indicator of the real impact of climate change -- covering almost three quarters of Earth's surface, they absorb the vast majority of the world's heat.

Marine heatwaves which have killed off swathes of Earth's coral reefs have likely doubled in frequency and are projected to become more common and intense, a landmark report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found in 2019.

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