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  • (thunder booms)

  • Normally when a hurricane

  • is barrelling towards us, we tend to run the other way.

  • But not Isla, she's a leatherback turtle

  • who was meandering off the coast of Virginia

  • when she accidentally swam straight into Hurricane Florence.

  • Scientists were worried she'd get caught up

  • in the middle of the storm, but Isla managed to survive

  • by swimming towards deeper waters.

  • Turns out there's a part of hurricanes

  • we don't often think about: what happens under the surface.

  • And Isla is just one example.

  • (compelling music)

  • Far out at sea, fish that live near the surface

  • might feel some turbulence as a storm passes,

  • but most sea creatures including dolphins, whales and sharks

  • avoid the rough surface water and swim to calmer seas.

  • But it's a different story near shore.

  • Changes in water temperature

  • and salinity can be catastrophic for marine life.

  • Hurricanes can generate massive waves,

  • which mix warm surface water

  • with cooler, saltier water below, generating currents

  • that extend up to 91 meters below the surface.

  • These currents are so strong,

  • that they can sweep manatees inland into canals and ponds,

  • or away from coastal waters altogether

  • and into the open ocean,

  • where they can become disoriented and even die.

  • Hurricanes also bring heavy rains,

  • so freshwater often floods coastal areas.

  • And because freshwater is less dense than saltwater,

  • it sits on top of the saltwater like oil on vinegar,

  • where it can prevent oxygen

  • from reaching the salty layer below

  • and disrupt salinity levels,

  • which can lead to sores, lesions and ultimately death

  • in whales, dolphins and porpoises.

  • Hurricanes can also kick up dirt and sand in shallow seas,

  • which can kill fish by clogging their gills.

  • Experts think that this is probably one of the factors

  • that killed an estimated 9.4 million saltwater fish

  • in 1992 during Hurricane Andrew.

  • The dirty, murky water also blocks sunlight

  • from reaching corals and sea grass.

  • In fact, scientists found that coral cover

  • in the Caribbean decreases on average

  • by 17% a year after a hurricane strikes.

  • And that's in addition to the stress

  • coral already face from human interference

  • from things like global warming or pollution.

  • But hurricanes are not always bad news for sea life,

  • believe it or not.

  • After Hurricane Katrina damaged or destroyed 90%

  • of fishing boats in the Mississippi Sound,

  • scientists observed a huge increase in dolphin births.

  • Without all the fishing boats around,

  • dolphins suddenly found themselves

  • with tons of fish all at their disposal,

  • and their populations thrived.

  • And of course, hurricanes impact land animals, too.

  • Sometimes they change ecosystems altogether.

  • For instance, the Hawaiian island of Kauai

  • is now inundated with feral chickens.

  • Locals say they are the descendants

  • of domesticated chickens that escaped

  • when hurricanes blew open coops.

  • And in North Carolina, torrential rains

  • from Hurricane Florence overwhelmed

  • more than 100 hog waste,

  • possibly releasing pig waste into the local water supply.

  • Unfortunately, research indicates

  • that the intensity of hurricanes will only increase

  • with climate change.

  • So if we don't get a handle on it soon,

  • we'll be in some deep shh pig waste,

  • we'll be in some deep pig waste.

  • (compelling music)

  • (electronic tones)

(thunder booms)

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What Happens To Fish During A Hurricane

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    Vivian Chen posted on 2019/03/20
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