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Sea life is in serious danger, says a new study

The researchers say ocean life is facing similar extinction to land life.

By
Thor Benson
A humpback whale. Photo by Brett Atkins/Shutterstock
A humpback whale. Photo by Brett Atkins/Shutterstock

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Ocean life has not faced the same extinction rate as land life, but that may soon change, according to researchers.

Researchers found that the same way agriculture on land has affected the habitats of land animals, fish farms are affecting the habitats of water animals.

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"A lot has changed in the last 200 years," said lead author McCauley, a professor in UCSB's Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology (EEMB). "Our tackle box has industrialized."

"There are factory farms in the sea and cattle-ranch-style feed lots for tuna," said co-author Steve Palumbi of Stanford University. "Shrimp farms are eating up mangroves with an appetite akin to that of terrestrial farming, which consumed native prairies and forest. Stakes for seafloor mining claims are being pursued with gold-rush-like fervor, and 300-ton ocean mining machines and 750-foot fishing boats are now rolling off the assembly line to do this work."

They say the same way land has been industrialized, the ocean is being industrialized. The researchers suggest that the most effective way to protect sea life so it does not become extinct from farming and other industrial activities in the ocean is to set aside large marine sanctuaries where fishing and industrial activity cannot occur. They believe protecting large parts of the ocean could slow the effects of climate change as well.

The research is published in Science.

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