The Princess Parrotfish and the Pea
According to new research published in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, parrotfish are invading the Mediterranean, courtesy of climate change.
Decked out in gaudy colors and in constant, Sisyphean need of dental care (the only way they can stop their beaks from growing is to chomp constantly on dead coral), parrotfish are the C-class celebrities of 'hot-water' coral reefs in the Pacific and the Red Sea. So what on Earth are they doing in the Mediterranean?
They're taking advantage of climate change, says Dr Michael Arvedlund, the author of the study. The first blue-barred parrotfish was speared off the coast of Israel in 2001, he says, and many more will follow as the water warms. (By 1-2.5C in 2099, if this European Commission report is correct.)
Hang on. Surely the 119 mile long water tunnel we built between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean in 1869 helped, you ask? (Of the 1000 'immigrant' species that call the Med home today, 62 of them got there via the Suez Canal, according to Dr Bariche at the American University of Beirut.)
'This first observation [of blue-barred parrotfish] in the Mediterranean is probably due to the migrational possibility via the Suez Canal', Dr Arvedlund admits. 'However, settling is highly dependent on optimum conditions, and such circumstances in a subtropical region for a tropical fish species may be due to climate change.'