Ocean heading for mass extinction, scientists warn
By Sarah Dingle, ABC News
Updated Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:23pm AEST
Scientists are warning of a potential marine massacre with a mass extinction of sea life akin to the death of the dinosaurs.
A new report says the seas are battling pollutants, overfishing and warming, and warns that without swift action the fight to save species could be lost.
The International Program on the State of the Oceans report brought together coral reef ecologists, toxicologists and fisheries scientists.
And when they compared notes, the result was grim.
Co-author Professor Ove Hoegh Guldberg, who specialises in reef ecosystems, says scientists found "unprecedented warming".
"We're seeing acidification in the ocean and now we're starting to see a drop in oxygen concentration throughout the major part of the ocean," he said.
"Now it's impacting directly on sea life, but the other is that it is a potential early step towards conditions which are associated with so-called mass extinction events."
Professor Guldberg does not want to be alarmist, but says a growing human population is to blame for many of the changes.
He warns the pressure will only increase, with the world's population set to grow by another 3 billion people in the next 30 to 50 years.