Young fish in the Northeast, from North Carolina to Nova Scotia, are moving north according to a recent federal study, adding to a growing body of research that shows fish populations shifting because of warmer ocean temperatures.
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say long-term data show young fish are moving north alongside adult fish.
“For the larval species that we examined, we did see a little of over 40 percent of the taxa was shifting their distributions and most of those shifts were occurring primarily northwards,” said Harvey Walsh, lead author of the study comparing long-term survey data.
One explanation may be that fish are picking new places to lay their eggs, added Jon Hare, director of the NOAA lab in Narragansett.
“Climate change is one potential cause, changing in fishing patterns or stocks rebuilding or decreasing is another possible explanation of the shifts that we documented,” said Hare.
Young fish didn’t always move in the same direction as adults, even though the overall pattern indicates a northward trend. Hare and Harvey said scientists need to do more research to understand why.
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