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Climate changes could shift marine predators’ habitat

The top ocean predators in the North Pacific could lose as much as 35 percent of their habitat by the end of the century as a result of change in the climate, according to a study published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The analysis, conducted by a team of 11 American and Canadian researchers, took data compiled from tracking 4,300 open-ocean animals during a decade and looked at how predicted temperature changes would alter the areas they depend on for food and shelter. Some habitats could shift by as much as 600 miles while others will remain largely unchanged, the scientists found, and these changes could affect species in different ways.

For some key species already facing threats — including blue whales and loggerhead turtles — this will make the food that sustains them more elusive.

“They’ll have to travel farther and farther every year just to get to their food,” said Elliott Hazen, the study’s lead author and a scientist with the National Oceanic and At-mospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

Click here for the full report by the Washington Post and click here for the official statement from Nature Climate Change.