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African Oasis Protects Marine Life From Ocean Warming

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With the persistent rising ocean temperatures causing coral bleaching and loss of marine and mammal breeding ground, the cool deep waters of Africa, from Kenya to Tanzania shield marine life from the rising water temperature.

A basin that runs about 150 miles along the water of Kenya and Tanzania is a newly discovered marine refuge. This basin was formed by Mount Kilimanjaro thousands of years ago acts as a marine sanctuary for small and big marine species. 

The increasing water temperature due to climate change can lead to physiological changes and could have long-term effects on the survival of marine life.

Dr. Tim McClanahan, the lead scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society has set up temperature gauges along the basin to confirm that the basin is not impacted by the ocean heatwaves.

Strapped on a dive tank, Dr. McClanahan made observations in the basin as ocean warming even happens. 

Studies show that inside the basin of about 400 square kilometers, the corals retain their colors while corals around that basin were bleached and dying.

The marine life in the area is thriving like dolphins, rare dugongs, and other fish species believed to be instinct.

Dr. Tim McClanahan described the phenomenon as running hot water into a cold bathtub and that if the water is cold; it takes a while for the water to warm up. 

By the time the hot water temperature has passed; it has not really affected and raised the water temperature inside the basin that much.

While the Wildlife Conservation Society team is well aware that this newfound marine sanctuary is still not totally safe from threats, protecting the 150 mile area is crucial where marine species can take retreat from the hazards of climate change.

Researchers are hoping that coastal development, dynamite fishing, and other unsustainable fishing practices that destroy the corals and food chain will be stopped to reduce the ecosystem stress and protect the basin.

Dr. McClanahan stressed that if the basin is well protected “this key transboundary marine ecosystem will remain a jewel of biodiversity for the entire East African coast."

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