Wildlife Wednesdays: 1 Billion Sea Creatures Dead From Heat | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 7th 2022

Wildlife Wednesdays: 1 Billion Sea Creatures Dead From Heat

A few weeks ago, the Pacific Northwest, as well as Canada, experienced an unforgiving heat wave that lasted for several weeks. Areas in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and even parts of Western Canada heated up to over 100 degrees. Some areas saw a high around 116-120 degrees! Records were broken in several areas, and worst of all, this had an enormous impact on marine life. An estimated 1 billion sea creatures off the coast of Vancouver have died, due to the heat. "But that number is likely to be much higher," said professor Christopher Harley from the University of British Columbia.

"I've been working in the Pacific Northwest for most of the past 25 years, and I have not seen anything like this here," he said. "This is far more extensive than anything I've ever seen," he goes onto mention. Mostly mussels were affected by this heat wave as he counted the number of sea creatures in a section that represents the entire beach. "I'm also looking for all these dead barnacles. I've been hearing from people about dead clams and crabs and intertidal anemones and sea stars. And once you really start factoring in all these different species, it's been a huge catastrophe for marine life," he said

Heat waves have occurred in this area in the past, but not this bad, as this heatwave was "exceptionally rare". As the climate changes, Harley mentions that this kind of heat wave could start occurring every 5-10 years. If this occurs, marine life will not have time to recover in between the heat waves and whole ecosystems could die off.