Coal mines have the canary, endangered species have the panda bear, melting ice has the polar bear, and now sea level rise has … the octopus?
Climate change's impact on sea levels has made tidal flooding in Miami more severe, according to scientists. After the "supermoon" earlier this month triggered high tides, parts of Miami flooded and at least one sea creature was left far from home: an octopus that became stranded in a flooded parking garage, reported the Miami Herald.
Miami resident Richard Conlin discovered the octopus, and shared images of the displaced sea creature on Facebook. According to Conlin, the octopus was brought home by building security officers, who returned the animal to the ocean in a bucket of water. [Supermoon Photos: Full Moon Rises Across the Globe]
Marine biologist Kathleen Sullivan Sealey, from the University of Miami, told the Miami Herald that the cyclical "king tides" — a period of especially high tides caused by the alignment of the sun, Earth and moon's gravitational forces — were intensified by the supermoon and likely washed the octopus out of pipes underneath the garage.
"When that much sea water comes in, the octopus is like 'What's this?' and goes to explore and ends up in a bad place," Sealey told the Miami Herald after examining the photos. She said the marooned octopus was either a small Caribbean reef octopus or a large Atlantic pygmy octopus.
Though the building's drainage pipes were designed safely above high-water marks, Sealey said rising sea levels have left some of the pipes partially submerged during very high tides, such as the king tide. These submerged pipes combine two of an octopus’ favorite things, Sealey said: a cramped, dark space with fish to eat.
In his Facebook posts, Conlin noted that his building has been flooding more frequently.
"This flooding to this extreme is new and gets worse each moon," he wrote. "In the past the floor of the garage would be ‘damp’ but this extreme flooding is new." Conlin added that every day for the past six months there has been "some type of water seepage in the garage."
Florida is especially at risk of flooding due to climate change. A recent study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determined that about 13 million Americans could be affected by rising seas caused by climate change, and nearly half of them live in Florida. In Miami alone, a third of the county could be forced to relocate, according to the NOAA study.
And sea creatures that wash ashore may become a more common occurrence, Sealey said, because ocean waters will be pushed deeper onto land more frequently due to rising seas.
"The sea is moving in, so we have to share the space," Sealey said.
Original article on Live Science.