Ocean life facing mass extinction: study

Published: 24/06/2011 05:00



Global warming, overfishing, and other man-made problems are pushing life in the oceans to the brink of a mass extinction unprecedented in millions of years, a study showed on Tuesday.

The seas are degenerating far faster than anyone has predicted, said the study of a 27-expert-panel. “We now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation.”

The study to be presented to the United Nations was conducted by leading marine scientists who were brought together in Oxford earlier this year by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO).

The study found out that time was running short to counter hazards such as a collapse of coral reefs or a spread of low-oxygen “dead zones.”

The study said, “Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our activities are at a high risk of causing, through the combined effects of climate change, over-exploitation, pollution and habitat loss, the next globally significant extinction event in the ocean.”

Scientists list five mass extinctions over 600 million years — most recently when the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago, apparently after an asteroid struck. Among others, the Permian period abruptly ended 250 million years ago.

“The findings are shocking,” Alex Rogers, scientific director of IPSO, wrote of the conclusions from a 2011 workshop of ocean experts staged by IPSO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at Oxford University. (Agencies)


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