Climate change could be the culprit behind a recent incident where thousands of fish were found dead along a 4-kilometer stretch of beach in Chumphon province, southern Thailand, according to experts. The event, which occurred on Thursday, is believed to have been triggered by a bloom of plankton.
Thon Thamrongnawasawat, the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University, linked the mass fish deaths to this plankton bloom. Such blooms are natural events that reduce oxygen levels in the water, leading to the suffocation of fish.
Thamrongnawasawat explained that while phenomena like coral bleaching or plankton blooms have been occurring naturally for thousands of years, global warming exacerbates these events and increases their frequency.
Local authorities report that plankton blooms typically occur once or twice a year and usually last for two to three days. Seawater samples have been collected for further investigation and analysis.
Marine heatwaves have become an increasing global concern this year. The British Met Office reported record-breaking global sea surface temperatures for the months of April and May. These high temperatures are attributed to the combined effects of the natural climate phenomenon El Niño and human-induced climate change, both of which contribute to increased temperatures on land and in the oceans.
This month, similar incidents of mass fish deaths were reported on Texas beaches, and warnings have been issued about potential algal blooms along the British coast due to rising sea temperatures. In Southern California, numerous dolphins and sea lions have been found dead or ill on beaches, likely due to a toxic algal bloom. Although these algal blooms were primarily caused by strong coastal upwelling, scientists warn that climate change is likely to increase the frequency of toxic algal blooms, as they thrive in warm water.
Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, expressed concern about the impact of marine heatwaves on local ecosystems. She cited the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and areas around England currently experiencing severe marine heatwaves as examples of regions at risk.