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Can sea creatures adapt to climate change? | The Economist

Over the past century, the ocean has been rapidly changing, global water temperatures have increased, sea levels have risen, and the fundamental chemistry of the ocean has been altered.

The biodiversity that appeared on these is three and a half billion years ago. Now our pressing threat because we, the humans.

A marine biologist in the Bay of Bengal is investigating the resilience of marine life by researching one of the planet's greatest survivors. The horseshoe crab. They've outlived the dinosaurs and survived mass extinctions.

Can their ability to adapt provide clues for how other ocean creatures might evolve and survive in the face of modern-day climate change?

We believe that because dorsal crabs have survived a horde of information for survival.

In the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean in the Bay of Bengal. The doctor put a Saluki bahadur, he and his team of marine biologists are searching for horseshoe crabs, but finding these creatures is harder than it once was.

It seems to be an interesting place that you should be able to see some horseshoe crabs.

Horseshoe crabs are an example of living fossils. They've existed nearly unchanged since at least 440, five million years ago, long before dinosaurs. They're a keystone species, which means they play a crucial role in maintaining the health of this coastal area.

Horseshoe crabs in sizable numbers can help accelerate many of the ecosystem-level processes, transfer of energy, maintaining the food web, ensuring the carbon is. So, therefore, they are very, very critical.

But they are now on the threatened species list.

Ten years ago, when I started my walk looking at the horseshoe crab population at this place, I would find a lot of horseshoe crabs. Today, I see hardly any horseshoe crabs.

The team is researching what is causing a decline in population to help build a case to make.

Part of this coastline, a marine protected area.

We are liaising with fishing communities. They get hold of the horseshoe crabs, which are caught in nad sardine trawlers, depositor's horseshoe crabs to us so that they can be recovered. They can help towards conservation by keeping an eye on how the habitat is changing or how they are being threatened.

But the team is facing many challenges.

Horseshoe crabs are sought after because of their ability to improve human health.

They have a unique substance in their blood, which is used to make a chemical called libelous a member site. Lyceus, this chemical can detect trace amounts of bacterial contamination. It is used in many vaccines and to test equipment before surgical operations.

As a result, the blood of horseshoe crabs is one of the most valuable liquids on Earth and can be worth as much as sixteen thousand dollars per liter.

Although they returned to the ocean after being bled, an estimated 50000 horseshoe crabs die in the process per year. But this isn't the only threat they're facing.

Like so many other ocean creatures, the horseshoe crabs are also being affected by overfishing, coastal pollution and habitat loss.

Perhaps the greatest threat, however, comes from climate change. Over the past few hundred years, human activity has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This traps heat, most of which is absorbed by the ocean, causing it to warm in 2019. It means surface temperatures were pointed seven degrees Celsius warmer than during the 20th century. And in turn, the sea levels have risen. The ocean also absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, changing its chemistry. These factors are affecting ocean species. Many will need to adapt or face the threat of extinction. Today, the researchers are taking water samples and sediment from the bay to analyze back in the lab. What they find on expeditions like this can shape their understanding of the effects of climate change on marine life, like the horseshoe crab.

We analyze different environmental barometers to understand the health of the ecosystem. For example, charismatic species such as the horseshoe crabs.

We can then start to link and understand what kind of changes might be happening to them.

The samples are analyzed for acidity, temperature, and microscopic algae food for many sea creatures, including the horseshoe crab using this information. The researchers are able to build a more accurate picture of the biodiversity in the area and ultimately which creatures are likely to survive.

This isn't the first time that the horseshoe crab has had to face major climatic changes. It has survived five catastrophic mass extinction events. But current changes to the ocean are happening much faster than ever before.

Human pressure is affecting the health of the modern ocean on a much shorter skin. Therefore, the horseshoe crabs are not finding enough time to add up to these changes and thus they are becoming more vulnerable along the coast.

The team has on Earth something unexpected. The horseshoe crabs are moving into different areas in search of new food sources and new habitats.

We are quite happy formed to horseshoe crabs, all carrying this man back. They're looking very healthy.

New habitat tulchin within mangroves from their Bundes Red. Have colonized. And we continue to monitor these sites very well and get an understanding of why they're colonizing these new sites.

The horseshoe crabs are survival specialists, but it's too early to tell whether this recent migration and adaptation is a masterstroke.

This is a fine bed mechanism or I would say an adaptive mechanism. I believe this is a very, very bold step. The horseshoe crabs are ticking. They're going into areas where food resources are a very different nature. We have to keep studying them to understand that it is a wise step for them or not. I'm sure what wanted his team. Question is, are we allowing that animal to let that change happen so that you survive and prosper?

The horseshoe crabs aren't the only marine species that are trying to adjust to climate change. For the past two decades, lobsters along the coast of North America have been slowly moving north to colder, more favorable temperatures. And researchers have discovered that some Arctic seabirds have moved their mating season to earlier in the year when food is more available. The hope is that if given enough time, many marine species will be able to adapt to the growing changes in the ocean.

You can understand what kind of adaptive strategies they're undertaking. We can then see for many of the other endangered species how because of these changes that are happening in the global ocean, horseshoe crabs are showing signs that they may adapt in the face of climate change.

But to give them a fighting chance. Dr. Bahaji is lobbying local government to implement more marine protected areas along this fragile coastline to protect and conserve these animals and the ecosystem from overfishing, pollution, and construction.

Eventually, on the coast of India, we declared ecologically sensitive areas where human-induced activity to be completely stopped. So that horseshoe crabs didn't survive, thrive, and in the process, many other marine organisms will survive and thrive. So that is the approach that we are aiming to achieve in the long run.

As the ocean changes, it is unclear which species will be able to cope. But by conserving and studying one of nature's greatest survivors, scientists like Dr. Bahaji can gain a better sense of how other marine species might migrate, adapt, and evolve in the future.

Hi, I'm Claire, and I directed this film. If you want to learn more about some of the innovative ways people are trying to tackle the challenges facing the ocean, then click on the link upset. If you want to watch more of a protected series, click on the other link. Please remember to subscribe. And thank you for watching.