How Record-High Ocean Temperatures In Florida Could Affect Environment, Economy

Buoys off southern Florida have registered water temperatures of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, turning the ocean into a hot tub and threatening to cause environmental and economic damage

Foto: FreePik.
July 27, 2023 | 11:11 AM

Read this story in


Bloomberg Línea — As the effects of El Niño climatic phenomenon grow in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer, South Florida has recorded ocean temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (over 37° Celsius), measured by a buoy in Manatee Bay, between the Florida panhandle and Key Largo.

The buoy recorded triple-digit temperatures for around three hours on Monday night, and which can be likened to the temperature of the water in a hot tub.

Jeff Masters, a meteorologist and former US government scientist, tweeted that while there was no official world record for sea surface temperature, a 2020 scientific paper found that the previous high may have been 99.7 degrees Fahrenheit, recorded in Kuwait Bay.

According to CBS, nearby buoys have consistently recorded water temperatures averaging 90° for a number of days.


The Little Blackwater buoy, located on a stretch of road separating it from the Manatee Bay monitor, has not recorded temperatures below 91.4° Fahrenheit since Monday afternoon. Further south, the Cayo Vaca buoy has also remained at 90° Fahrenheit.

What are the consequences of the warming water?

Increased extreme heat in ocean waters can have a significant impact on both marine ecosystems and people, including:

  • Coral bleaching: High temperatures can cause coral bleaching, which occurs when coral expels the symbiotic algae that provide nutrients and color. This weakens corals and makes them more susceptible to disease, which can lead to coral reef death
  • Migration of marine species that have specific temperature ranges in which they thrive
  • New habitats: Changing ocean conditions can lead to loss or displacement of habitats, given changes in nutrient distribution and phytoplankton that can affect food chains and the productivity of marine ecosystems
  • Sea level rise: Warming water contributes to the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, resulting in sea level rise, affecting coastal areas, eroding beaches, flooding wetlands and threatening species in those ecosystems
  • Economic impact: Changes in the distribution of marine species could affect fishing and aquaculture activities, generating a major economic impact on the communities that depend on this industry. In addition, it could affect tourism since coral reefs and other marine ecosystems are popular destinations for recreation
  • An increased in extreme weather events: Warming ocean waters can intensify hurricanes and storms, increasing the risk of damage to coastal infrastructure and loss of life