Alaska could become climate change refuge for tropical fish

Ocean sunfish

Ocean sunfish is captured in research trawl in July 2015. (Image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Scientists are trying to better understand how the world’s fish will adapt to climate change. One recent finding: as temperatures rise new species could move into Alaska waters.

Researchers from the University of Washington used 80 years of data to figure out how much warming fish could withstand. They discovered fish in the tropics are already living in water at the upper end of their threshold. Migrating to cooler waters could be their best option for survival.

As that occurs, Alaska waters could become a host to new kinds of marine life. Already, tropical species like ocean sunfish have been spotted in the state.

Scientists say they need more information to determine how local environments could be affected as new fish arrive and compete for food.

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