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If the oceans get warm enough, the largest species of pacific salmon -- commonly known as kings or chinooks -- could face a “catastrophic” population loss by the century’s end, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change and reported in Toronto’s Globe and Mail.

The study, explains the Vancouver Sun, examined juvenile king salmon’s ability to adapt to increasingly warmer water temperatures and found that heart rate increased with temperature until, at 24.5 degrees Celsius (76.1 degrees Fahrenheit), the fishes’ hearts could no longer beat faster and slowed or became arrhythmic.

Based on those findings, the study concluded that under “average” scenarios projected for warming there was a 17 percent chance of catastrophic population loss (though that figure rises to 98 percent in worst-case warming scenarios).

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