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According to a recent study, the warming ocean temperature is negatively affecting fur seal pups. The warming oceans are bound to affect the physiological processes of marine mammals worldwide, but fur seals are an unfortunate example.
The fur seal pup deaths have been much higher than average in recent years. Their deaths were caused by hookworm infections. It is assumed that these infections are exacerbated by the high temperatures. In previous temperatures, hookworms are less able to harm fur seal pups due to the pups’ natural immune system. The warmer waters have a hampering effect on the pups ability to fight off infections. Therefore, more pups are dying.
Mauricio Seguel was the leader of the study, he had this to say about the warming oceans, “ Increasing ocean temperatures are associated with changes in the patterns of wind and ocean currents, which cause a decrease in the cycling of nutrients and, by extension, the abundance of life including fishes. Reductions in marine life have also been linked with the decline of marine mammal populations, as they rely on fish as their main food supply. Fur seals and sea lions may be included here because although their pups live on land, they depend on their mother’s’ milk for survival, which can only be produced if the mothers eat enough fish.”
These seals may be indicators of the future for other marine mammals in a warming ocean.
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