London: Australian scientists have unearthed "striking evidence" of mass migration of tropical fish southwards owing to climate change.
Compiled by over 80 of Australia`s leading marine experts for the government science body CSIRO, the snapshot of global warming`s effects on the island continent`s oceans warned of "significant impacts".
"Climate change is already happening; widespread physical changes include rapid warming of the southeast and increasing flow of the east Australia current," the report said.
The report described southeast Australia as a `global warming hotspot`, with the contraction south and strengthening of southern hemisphere winds causing the eastern current to become more intense and also warmer, a newspaper reported.
"A range of species including plankton, fish and invertebrates are now found further south because of the enhanced transport of larvae and juveniles in the stronger current and the high rate of regional warming," it said.
Sea snakes were declining and warmer beaches were changing turtle breeding habits and seabird and marine mammal feeding and mating, it added.
In the past 30 years, coral reefs have experienced increasing thermal bleaching and it is projected to become more frequent and severe, "leading to chronic degradation of most coral reefs by the middle to late parts of the century", the report said.
Though the findings raise concerns, project leader Elvira Poloczanska pointed out some positives too. The research suggested that certain tropical fish species were better equipped to adapt to warming than previously thought, Poloczanska said.