Health of marine life in decline

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Scientists have found evidence to suggest that the health of marine organisms ranging from corals to whales is in decline, says a report from New Scientist.

Experts have said for years that the health of marine organisms was deteriorating and that an increase in diseases has been recorded in many species. Corals had developed fungal and algal infections, pilchards have become infected with viruses and parasites and bacteria have attacked molluscs and echinoderms. However, there was no baseline data to compare the observations with.

Jessica Ward of Cornell University, New York, has completed a study which looks back at the diseases of marine organisms recorded since 1970.

She told New Scientist: "We wanted to find out if something was actually happening. For most groups of organisms we found that, yes, there is something going on out there. Now we hope more people will try to find out where it is coming from."

Among the possible reasons for the increase in disease, Ward suggests that increasing sea temperatures may be to blame.