North Carolina is a paradise for fishermen – from its cold mountain streams to its brackish coastal estuaries.

Prater: “Here our culture is very tied to the land, very tied to the wild.”

That’s Ben Prater of the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife. He says that a warming climate could be trouble for aquatic species across the state.

For example, consider trout in the high-altitude streams and lakes of the Blue Ridge mountains.

Prater: “The species that are adapted there can’t tolerate heat stress very well. So things like our native brook trout, these are animals that with just slight rises in temperature can experience some negative effects.”

Near the coast, blue crabs and shrimp thrive in shallow areas where fresh water and salt water mix.

Prater: “Those are really precious aquatic environments.”

But as seas rise, more salt water will enter these areas. And more frequent droughts may limit the supply of fresh water. That can harm aquatic plants and the species – such as crabs and shrimp – that depend on them for food.

In North Carolina, recreational fishing is a billion-dollar industry. So Prater says reducing climate change and protecting aquatic habitats will help the state’s wildlife and economy.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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Diana Madson

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...