Beal quoted in Press Herald article on implications of warming Gulf of Maine

Brian Beal, professor of marine ecology and director of the Marine Science Field Station at the University of Maine at Machias, was quoted in the Portland Press Herald article “Vulnerable waters off the coast of Maine.” Since the record-breaking heat wave of 2012–2013, the Gulf of Maine has continued to warm, seeing its second and third warmest sea surface temperature years on record in 2016 and 2018, the article states. The warming, which is predicted to increase, has affected species from soft-shell clams and puffins to right whales and lobsters as it alters their habitats and the ecosystem balance that is important to the creatures as well as the people whose livelihoods depend on them. Maine’s overall soft-shell clam harvest has fallen from nearly 34 million pounds in 1950 to 7 million in 2018, the Press Herald reported. Through his research, Beal has discovered that protecting mud flats from predators like worms and invasive green crabs can lead to the growth of “staggering quantities” of clams. “This has drawn back the curtain for us in terms of understanding what is happening in this ecosystem,” said Beal. “These flats could produce lots of clams if we had fewer green crabs.” The crabs invaded the Gulf of Maine in record numbers in 2013, corresponding with the record warming event. The article is part of the weeklong “Covering Climate Now” project by more than 250 news outlets around the world. Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel and Biddeford Journal Tribune published the Press Herald article.