"If something bad happens to the dolphins, we are next."
Ocean temperatures are steadily climbing, turning coastal waters into steaming — and deadly — hot tubs.
And that's not some loose analogy to describe the very real dangers of climate change. Earlier this year, sensor buoys off the coast of Florida registered temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, around the average temperature of a literal hut tub.
The effects of these blistering temperatures have been devastating to local marine life, as well as freshwater life further inland.
Most recently, more than 150 pink river dolphins died in Lake Tefé in Brazil's Amazonas state, a tragedy that's startling scientists and conservationists. As The Washington Post reports, the catastrophe was likely triggered by climate change's soaring temps.
Water temperatures in the remote lake reached a terrifying 102 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly 59 degrees higher than the average of any body of water in the Amazon, per the newspaper. Water levels have also hit worrying lows as a result.
"It is common for communities to run into a dead dolphin or two at some point," Claudia Sacramento, head of the Environmental Emergencies Division at the governmental Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, told the WP. "Usually they’re just old or sick. But we had never seen something like this before."
It may also be a compound issue; researchers are now investigating whether biotoxins or viruses may have also had something to do with the die-off.
But the most straightforward solution to this puzzle is the rapidly heating water, a terrifying new reality that comes courtesy of global warming.
In fact, the waters are so hot that the dolphin carcasses are decomposing at a speed such that scientists barely have any time to bring them to a lab to figure out what their exact cause of death was, per WaPo.
"We’re provoking this ourselves," Adriana Colosio, a veterinarian from the Humpback Whale Institute, told WaPo. "If something bad happens to the dolphins, we are next."
More on hot waters: Florida's Ocean Now Officially the Temperature of a Hot Tub
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