In a recent study that’s been published in Science of the Total Environment, and funded by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) it’s been revealed that populations of Dungeness crabs in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia were found to have shell damaged linked to an increasingly acidic Pacific.
The phenomenon could spread
The issue has been observed in the areas that are mentioned above, but it’s more than obvious that could be happening in more places.
The survey was first conducted back in 2016, and it examined larval Dungeness crabs that were along the West Coast. Their skeletons were beginning to disintegrate and this happened from the moment that they hatched.
— NOAA (@NOAA) January 23, 2020
Back in 2010 some similar findings were observed as well and this time it happened in a more obscure family of fauna — phytoplankton and zooplankton.
These are two animals responsible for fundamentally supporting the entire food web in our oceans.
“If [the crabs and other ocean life is] affected already, we really need to make sure we start to pay attention to various components of the food chain before it is too late,” according to the lead author for the study Nina Bednarsek.
What is ocean acidification?
Sfist.com notes that “Ocean acidification refers to a reduction in the pH of ocean water, primarily caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over long time spans.”
It’s also important to understand that when the CO2 is absorbed by seawater there will be a domino of chemical reactions and these will result in an increased concentration of hydrogen ions that are responsible for the pH reduction.
The fact that the crabs showed signs of the shell breakdown worried researchers for more reasons. This could affect their ability to move and feed, and protect themselves against predators and elements.
The study’s authors said that there’s a need for more research.