Explore the direct impact of rising sea temperatures on coastal communities across the Mediterranean.
The Mediterranean is the fastest warming sea in the world. Its temperatures are going up 20% faster than the global average. This increase in temperature is lethal for marine life. The effects of warming waters and the rising sea levels are already having a direct effect, not just on biodiversity, but also on coastal communities all along the Mediterranean.
In this project we have documented the effects of the warming sea on fishermen across the Mediterranean and the studies scientists are conducting to understand how heat is affecting the sea and its biodiversity.
The rise in temperature is making fishing harder for artisanal fishermen and small fishing fleets. The catches have become smaller, and they now have to travel further and to deeper waters to find fish.
In Spain, a group of biologists are documenting the state of fish in the Mediterranean along with fishermen off the coast of Catalonia. Sandra Ramirez, 32, is one of the leading scientists working with Joaquim Garrabou’s team, the main scientific group tracking marine heat waves in the Mediterranean. They are tracking marine heat waves through marine thermometers, which record hourly the sea temperature in different depths in particular points off the coast of Catalonia and South of France and later translated into graphic data like temperature maps. They are also investigating the effects of the warming sea temperature by analyzing the state of the red coral which bleaches when dying and the Gorgonia an endemic organism like coral who is disappearing massively due to the rise in temperature.
What it used to be a red basin has now turned white, becoming dead. It’s like watching a forest devastated by fire.
Joaquim Garrabou, head of the research team about marine heat waves at ICM
In Tunisia, the Blue Crab, an invasive and voracious species original from the Red Sea, has taken over in the region due to the increase in water temperature. Artisanal fishermen are struggling to keep up. The increase in temperature and pollution has provoked a downfall in size and number of fish, making it harder for fishermen to live. When the blue crabs get trapped in the nets they break and become useless and need to be replaced, impacting directly on Tunisia’s coastal economy, which depends on fishing.
In Cyprus, the arrival of invasive species and the rise in the sea temperature is making livelihood for fishermen impossible. Many have to combine fishing with other sources of income in order to meet ends.