With record-melting temperatures reaching 49.6° Celsius, Canada is undergoing the most brutal heatwave in its history. The heatwaves have wreaked havoc in the country, causing wildfires and sudden deaths of hundreds of people. Now, according to a researcher at the University of British Columbia in Canada, the monstrous heatwave may have cooked about 100 crores of marine animals alive. Marine biologist Chris Harley witnessed the mass death when he walked to a seashore in Vancouver. Mussels, snails, starfish and clams are at the harshest end of this heatwave. According to Harvey, trapped mussels on the seashore are like a toddler trapped in a car on a really hot day.
“Certainly the scale of this on a coastline scale could be much larger, but we just don’t have the data yet to know," Harvey told CBC.
Mussels and other intertidal animals can not survive extreme temperatures. When it’s hot, they cannot run to look for shelter. Their dark shells absorb heat and have no mercy on them as they are not able to regulate their body temperatures. There is no refuge for them, they just die. Scientists say that extreme temperatures are caused by human-induced global warming and greenhouse emissions. These deaths are a reminder that our environment is severely suffering, Harley emphasised.
For people to have an idea of how humans are causing the environment and ecosystems to suffer, scientists ask them to look at it from a mussel’s perspective. Describing what a heatwave does to mussels, Brian Helmuth, a marine biologist at Northeastern University, US, told a public radio program The World, “if you reached down into your chest cavity, you rip out your lungs, and you hold them above your head..and you hope to God that the wind blows because if it doesn’t you’re going to suffocate.”
According to Harley, even if the mussels come back in one or two years, the heat waves are not going to stop. They will keep coming back. In the future with greater severity, thanks to climate change. Harley reiterates the need to work harder on reducing emissions. According to a report in CBC, the heat wave in the British Columbia province alone can be attributed to 179 deaths in a week.