A fishing vessel in the Bay of Fundy off the coast of Grand Manan. Marlo Glass, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ocean temperatures measured in the Bay of Fundy were higher than normal last summer, and reached its highest on record at a station outside Saint Andrews, according to a long-term monitoring study which measures ocean temperatures at different depths. 

Chantelle Layton, research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, says the data shows ocean temperatures were among the highest they’ve been in over 100 years in 2022, in some cases nearly hitting temperatures reached in 2012, the highest on record.

The surface level sea temperatures taken close to the Saint Andrews Biological Station were 1.4 degrees above average, Layton said, the warmest on record since 1921.

At one high-frequency station off the coast of Saint Andrews toward Grand Manan, temperatures were one to two degrees above average, she said.

Temperatures along the Gulf of Maine and into the Bay of Fundy were up to 1.8 degrees above average, she said.

Those temperatures are taken at the bottom of the ocean, she said, where the typical temperature averages between 7 and 8.2 degrees.

The year clearly wasn’t typical, she said.

“The bottom temperatures are most concerning to us,” she said, “we didn’t expect to see such drastic changes to waters at those depths.”

But, she said, the variances are not necessarily a marker of climate change, but rather “climate variability.”

The monitoring program will continue to monitor the temperatures at various points in the Atlantic Ocean, in the Bay of Fundy and at other points on the Scotian Shelf.

“It will give us a good picture of what’s going on,” she said.

A 2015 research article in the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea Journal of Marine Science says some key species in the Scotian Shelf, namely snow crab, cod, pollock, and red hake, are vulnerable to warmer waters.

Dr. Claire Goodwin, a research scientist with the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in Saint Andrews, said the temperatures recorded last year were “particularly high” and part of a growing trend, adding the Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest-warming bodies of water in the world.

The warming waters could mean some species of marine life will shift their range northward to seek cooler temperatures, or seek deeper, cooler waters.

“Lots of things will shift slightly,” she said, “we may lose some species in Canadian waters, but may gain some as well.”

Huntsman’s Dr. Amber Garber has been studying the genetic markers of Atlantic salmon, in order to increase the specie’s tolerance to warming waters.

Goodwin said Huntsman researchers have been “working with different organizations on climate change projects,” including a study of plankton and larvae habits in the waters of the Saint John Harbour, and a project report will likely be released later this month.

By Marlo Glass, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 04, 2023 at 11:40

This item reprinted with permission from   Telegraph-Journal   Saint John, New Brunswick
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