USA TODAY journalists traveled aboard fishing boats in Alaska, Florida, California, and Maine to learn from people who depend on the sea for their livelihood—people familiar with the rhythms of the ocean but who are now confronted with rapid, confounding, and at times catastrophic changes.
Experts say the oceans have been absorbing most of the excess heat caused by climate change, insulating us from the worst impacts. Those days may be coming to an end, however, as the ocean water warms far more rapidly—and stays warm—than it has for any of recorded history.
Scientists have documented how that warmer water is changing when marine animals eat, how they reproduce, and where they live. The warming temperatures are also making hurricanes and other storms stronger, faster, causing bigger storm surges and raising water levels around the country.
For the men and women who make their living fishing those waters, climate change is yet one more challenge they face atop those normal seasonal variations and challenges such as high diesel prices, foreign competition, and the changing tastes of America's dinner tables.
With this series, we hope you gain a new and nuanced understanding of those challenges piling atop each other, and come to better appreciate how climate change, for many farmers and fishers, is one of many challenges to overcome.