June 20, 2008

Sea Changes Threat to Whales, Pacific Coral

Sea changes threat to whales, Pacific coral

WELLINGTON, June 19 (Xinhua) -- A new report released Thursday warned that a critical foraging ground for thousands of whales near Antartica is losing its ice cover faster than many had thought.

The ice melt poses a major challenge for whale species, which travel huge distances to feed in the Southern Ocean every year.

The report commissioned by animal rights organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF) modeled its predictions on a two degrees Celsius increase in temperature, according to the Suva-based Pacnews regional news agency.

What it found was sea ice in the Southern Ocean will decline by up to 30 per cent within 40 years and key habitats in the Antarctic will change as a result.

Foraging zones are expected to move further south, reducing the overall habitat available. The species at risk include the humpback, the minke, and the blue whale.

Scientists were warning of another danger from climate change, which could pose a serious threat to the Pacific region.

A report by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Research Center in Australia was warning of rising acidity in the ocean, caused by seas absorbing greenhouse carbon dioxide.

The report said it could make low-lying island nations more vulnerable to storms as their coral reefs become affected.

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