By the end of this century, scientists expect average water temperatures near the sea floor in the North Atlantic to be above the thresholds tolerated by lobsters and other iconic New England marine species such as cod and sea scallops. As the Atlantic Ocean continues to warm, lobster shell disease will become more common, red tides will occur earlier in the year and over larger areas, and invasive aquatic species will gain a foothold in northern waters. Sea level rise due to melting ice sheets and thermal expansion of the oceans may also put coastal regions at greater risk for flooding, wetland loss, and land erosion.
New Englanders have always had a special relationship with the ocean. Fishing has long been a cornerstone industry for our region’s economy. Millions of tourists visit each year for a taste of piping hot New England clam chowder or a freshly caught Maine lobster. New England beaches are among the most beautiful in the world, offering both smooth sands and rocky coasts. But New Englanders must now wonder: Will climate change make seafood scarce and our beaches unsafe?
Scientists need more observational data to find out how the ocean is responding to climate change. Check out these citizen science projects for some ideas about how you can help collect valuable ocean data and raise awareness about marine habitats and trends in fish and lobster populations in New England.
Earthdive Help protect the health and diversity of our oceans by sharing information about what you see while scuba diving, snorkeling, or swimming in the ocean.
Juvenile Lobster Monitoring Program Help monitor the health of New England’s most iconic species by counting young lobsters at nursery grounds along the Gulf of Maine.
REEF Volunteer Survey Program Identify fish, turtles, and marine invertebrates while enjoying a swim in the ocean.
Want to learn more about the impacts of climate change on New England’s ocean? Check out these resources.