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Water-Related News

Extreme heat may show effects in Florida’s oceans, lakes, coral reefs

Soaring numbers can have dire consequences for state waterways battling algae blooms, coral bleaching and fish kills. It also may add powerful fuel to tropical systems that pass through coastal waters during hurricane season.

The waters bordering Florida are running abnormally hot, alarming climate scientists about the potential for damaging ripple effects on the marine environment — from coral reef bleaching to coastal fish kills and algae blooms.

Now-viral maps from the University of Miami show record highs for this time of year just about everywhere off the coast — including the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, Biscayne Bay and Florida Bay.

“Welcome to our new reality,” said Todd Crowl, director of Florida International University’s Institute of Environment. “Temperature is one thing we can’t control in the short term.”

Waters off the state’s southeastern coast are running about three and a half degrees higher than normal in Fahrenheit, with waters in the Florida Keys up a stunning seven degrees above average. That’s significant historically and hot enough that even people not in the business of monitoring marine temperatures are beginning to notice, with some visitors commenting about unpleasantly warm swims on social media.