CO2 could take huge toll on ocean fish by mid-century

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Can the world’s oceans survive the global warming era?

Not much time left to cut greenhouse gas pollution

Staff Report

Building levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans could have a widespread and devastating effect on many fish by 2050, Australian researchers warned in a new study.

“Our results were staggering and have massive implications for global fisheries and marine ecosystems across the planet,” said Dr. Ben McNeil, a researcher at the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre. “High concentrations of carbon dioxide cause fish to become intoxicated … a phenomenon known as hypercapnia. Essentially, the fish become lost at sea. The carbon dioxide affects their brains and they lose their sense of direction and ability to find their way home. They don’t even know where their predators are,” McNeil said. Continue reading

Scientists track unexpected oceanic plankton surge

Scientists working in the Gulf of Mexico are tracking BP's spilled oil as it works its way up the food web, from bacteria to plankton. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Will plankton rule in a globally warming world? Photo via NOAA.

‘Something strange is happening here, and it’s happening much more quickly than we thought it should …’

Staff Report

Atmospheric carbon dioxide ending up in the world’s oceans may be fueling a population explosion of microscopic marine algae in the North Atlantic, scientists said in a new study that shows how greenhouse gases can drive dramatic ecosystem changes. Continue reading

Study: Sharks feeding ability impaired by ocean acidification

A sand tiger shark. PHOTO COURTESY PAULA WHITFIELD, NOAA.

Some sharks may lose their edge as the world’s oceans become more acidic in the next few decades. Photo courtesy Paula Whitfield, NOAA.

‘In warmer water, sharks are hungrier but with increased CO2 they won’t be able to find their food’

Staff Report

The effects of ocean acidification on shellfish are already well understood. There’s little doubt shell-forming species like oysters will face big challenges as the water chemistry changes. In some cases, more acidic water will simply corrode there shells.

But a new study found that some top ocean predators will also be affected. Ocean acidification will impair the ability of some sharks to hunt and find food, according to researchers at the University of Adelaide (Australia). Continue reading

Ocean acidification may aid spread of invasive species

A lion's mane jellyfish. PHOTO BY DAN HERSHMAN VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Jellyfish are resilient to ocean acidification and may spread to new areas as the oceans absorb more CO2. Photo by Dan Hershman via the Creative Commons.

Plymouth University researchers track ocean impacts of rising CO2 levels

Staff Report

Killer algae outbreaks and toxic jellyfish blooms may spread to new areas of the globe as oceans become more acidic, scientists found in a new study.

Species like Japanese kelp and stinging jellyfish are much more resilient to rising CO2 levels than hard-shelled ocean creatures, whose shells can simply dissolve in more corrosive water.

“We are witnessing the spread of marine life that cause problems, such as toxic jellyfish blooms and rotting algal mats,” said Professor Jason Hall-Spencer, of Plymouth University. Continue reading

New study maps ocean acidification at global scale

This map shows the global distribution of aragonite saturation at 50 meters depth. The graphic shows areas that are most vulnerable to ocean acidification since they are regions where the saturation of aragonite is lower. Aragonite is a calcium carbonate mineral that shellfish use to build their shells.

This map shows the global distribution of aragonite saturation at 50 meters depth. The graphic shows areas that are most vulnerable to ocean acidification since they are regions where the saturation of aragonite is lower. Aragonite is a calcium carbonate mineral that shellfish use to build their shells. Graphic courtesy NOAA.

U.S. West Coast seen as vulnerable

Staff Report

There’s little doubt that all the world’s oceans are being acidified by the release of carbon dioxide, but some areas are more vulnerable than others, scientists said this week after measuring levels of aragonite, a substance that’s critical for shell-building organisms.

The new study, led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers, says the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, and the upwelling ocean waters off the west coasts of North America, South America and Africa as regions are especially vulnerable to ocean acidification.

When cold waters in those regions, already loaded with CO2, circulate to the upper layers of the oceans they mix with surface waters that are absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, subjecting them to a double whammy of sorts, according to the scientists. The carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is coming primarily from human-caused fossil fuel emissions. Continue reading

Survey finds West Coast shellfish growers are very concerned about ocean acidification

Some of the best oysters in the world come from Apalachicola Bay.

Commercial oyster growers on the West Coast are already feeling the impacts of ocean acidification.

Industry seeks ways to mitigate impacts

Staff Report

The issue of ocean acidification may not have a reached a critical mass in general public awareness yet, but more than 80 percent of people working in the shellfish industry along the U.S. West Coast are convinced that it’s a growing problem.

About half the people in the industry report that they’ve already experienced some impact from ocean acidification, according to a survey and study led by researchers at Oregon State University.

Continue reading

Study shows how ocean acidification will affect algae

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Ocean acidification may have far-reaching effects on algae.

‘Subtle changes in calcification can cause dramatic changes in skeletal performance …’

Staff Report

LINZ — Scientists working at an underwater volcano near Sicily say they have new evidence that ocean acidification could change fundamental parts of marine ecosystems.

Their research shows that acidification weakens algal skeletons. Even a small loss of skeletal calcification caused by exposure to corrosive waters can have a significant impact and leave algae at risk of losing access to light and nutrients, the researchers concluded in a new paper published in the Royal Society’s Biology Letters. Continue reading

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