Increasing ocean acidity threatens crabs

July 28, 2009

crab gif5

Ocean acidity?  I’ve never heard of that. The basic premise is this: increased CO2 in the atmosphere leads to more being absorbed/dissolved in the ocean.  The lower pH interferes with the biochemistry of crabs, thwarting proper shell development.  Sounds reasonable.

CO2 is indeed acidic.  That’s one reason soda is bad for your digestion.  Did you know that mosquitos can smell CO2?  That’s how they find you.  But I digress …

Here’s an excerpt from a much longer article:

“Ocean acidification is global warming’s evil twin,” said Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco. “The EPA has a duty under the Clean Water Act to protect our nation’s waters from pollution. Today, CO2 is one of the biggest threats to our ocean waters.”

“The oceans are indeed becoming more acidic, as a result of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and that acidity represents a very real threat to much of the life in oceans, ranging from the smallest microscopic plants, to coral reefs, to things that form shells — mussels, oysters, clams — but even things like lobsters and crabs.

Scientists have expressed concerns that ocean acidification could have serious consequences for a variety of shelled creatures, including corals, crabs, sea stars, sea urchins and some plankton. High acid levels can prevent the formation of shell material and could disrupt the food web.

“We’ve only begun to scratch the surface in terms of really understanding the full range of the impacts of ocean acidification, and it also affects physiology, not just the making of shells and skeletons.”



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