Continued carbon emissions are increasing the acidity of the oceans; in fact, approximately a third of anthropogenic carbon emissions are absorbed by the oceans each year. Scientists worry that not enough research has been done on the possible effects that ocean acidification will have on marine wildlife, ecosystems and food webs.
And it's not just the scientists: Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington state is fighting to increase funding for research on ocean acidification and its effect on threatened marine life. Recently Sen. Cantwell, along with scientists, held an official hearing in Seattle to discuss the issue.
Of prime concern are creatures that create shells and skeletons, such as corals. Increased acidity reduces the amount of available carbonate ions, a building block used for shell and skeleton formation. Lab studies show that increasing levels of acidity on corals can cause their skeletons to weaken and even totally dissolve.
What's unclear is what happens outside of the lab with such acidification. Increased funding is vital to allow additional studies, but research shouldn't be the end game; immediate action must be taken as ocean acidification is already impacting some areas.
- Deceptive Crab Mislabeling Leads Members of Congress to Call for Action Posted Wed, July 30, 2014
- Ocean News: Blue Whale “Hot Spots” Linked with Busy Shipping Lanes, Massachusetts Bans Shark Fin Trade, and More Posted Fri, July 25, 2014
- Creature Feature: Caribbean Spiny Lobster Posted Wed, July 30, 2014
- Massachusetts Takes a Step Forward For Sharks Posted Fri, July 25, 2014
- Loggerhead Sea Turtles Gain Protection with Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery Restriction Posted Fri, July 25, 2014