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Climate Change and Marine Animals: A Conservation Challenge

May 24, 2023

Climate-driven changes such as higher ocean temperatures and extreme weather events are affecting the health of marine animals—and their ability to survive.

Two humpback whales swimming underwater. The water is very blue, and the surface is visible just above their heads. Humpback whales swimming underwater. Credit: Kogia.org

Marine animals—like whales, dolphins, seals, and sea turtles—depend on a functioning ocean ecosystem for their survival. They are also important indicators of overall ocean health. NOAA Fisheries scientists are finding that climate change is leading to rapid changes in our oceans, often harming protected species, many of which are already threatened or endangered. 

Climate-driven changes such as higher ocean temperatures, and more frequent and extreme weather events like marine heatwaves and hurricanes, can directly affect the health and condition of these animals. They can also impact the availability of the habitat and prey they rely on to survive and reproduce. 


There is still much to learn about these threats, so that we can better protect them into the future. Watch this video to learn how we—along with our partners—are using a sound science approach to understanding climate change impacts and inform our conservation work for these protected species.


Last updated by Office of Communications on July 10, 2023