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Shipwrecks off North Carolina coast harbor tropical migrants

Tropical and subtropical fish are taking up residence on shipwrecks and other sunken structures off the North Carolina coast. This pattern may continue or even accelerate in coming years given predictions of warming oceans under climate change, a new National Science Foundation-funded study suggests. The artificial reefs created by these structures may be acting as stepping stones for fish that are moving northward and living at the edge of their geographic range, or beyond it, in search of suitable habitat. One of the most surprising findings of the study is that the tropical and subtropical fish observed off North Carolina exhibit a strong preference for hanging out on human-made structures versus natural rocky reefs found nearby. The fishes' preference for artificial habitats suggests networks of the human-made structures -- which are already commonly found up and down the East Coast and in other waters worldwide -- could act as underwater corridors the fish use to reach the habitats they need to survive

Visit Website | Image credit: John McCord/Coastal Studies Institute