NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 6, 2013

Climate change results 'dramatic'

Scientists warn rising temps will bring exotic sealife, lobster devastation

(Continued)

“(The disease) seems to have stalled out just south of Cape Ann,” Wahle said.

If the disease spreads farther north, it could have a devastating impact on northern New England’s lobster fisheries, Wahle said.

Rising sea temperatures have also brought a variety of warm-water fish to New England’s waters. Wahle said seahorses, snowy groupers and even a triggerfish — a colorful tropical fish that would look at home in an exotic fish tank — have been found in New England waters.

New Hampshire wildlife biologist Eric Orff noted the changes are not just affecting the sea. He said New Hampshire’s moose population has been devastated in recent years by ticks. Orff said ticks are surviving better in the recent relatively mild winters. Thousands of ticks have been swarming onto moose.

“When up to 150,000 ticks are on a moose, it virtually kills them,” he said. The moose population in New Hampshire has dropped by about 40 percent since 2005, and the cause of death for many has been ticks, he said.

Orff said black bears in New Hampshire have also changed their habits, due to a warmer environment. They have become “insomniac bears,” hibernating less and becoming more active in the winter. A lack of food, due to hot and dry temperatures in the summer, has drawn bears to alternate food sources such as birdfeeders, he said.

“Clearly, there is something new going on with bears that is new over the past few decades,” he said.

The report recommended four steps be taken to reduce global warming — cut carbon pollution 50 percent by 2030; increase usage of renewable energy such as energy like offshore wind, solar power and next-generation biofuels; safeguard wildlife and their habitats; and help communities prepare for impacts such as rising sea levels, more extreme weather and more severe droughts.

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