As the oceans across the globe are warming up at an alarming rate, it is not just the coral reefs that are at risk. A new research has revealed that warmer waters are particularly proving to be fatal for baby fur seals.
Actually, when the oceans warm up, fur seal pups are put at a greater risk of dying from hookworm infections. That’s because of a complex chain of events that starts with the fact that, in warmer waters, fish are harder for adult fur seals to find.
The chain of cause-and-effect goes something like this:
1. Warmer temperatures decrease the presence of fish.
2. Mother fur seals spend more time fishing and less time with their pups.
3. The pups get less care and have weaker immune systems as a result.
4. More pups die from infections like hookworm.
“Our work reveals how changing ocean conditions are having an indirect effect on fur seal pups’ mortality rates as a result of infection,” first author and postdoctoral associate in the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia Mauricio Seguel said. “We hope these findings help lay the groundwork for investigating ways to limit the effect of parasitic diseases among fur seals and other marine mammals in the context of a changing climate.”