Ocean Acidification Puts Sea Life (Including Oysters) At Risk

An oyster releasing sperm
In some coastal waters, oyster spat production has already been reduced by half.

(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)

The topic of global warming has been around for quite some time. Concerned citizens have been discussing the effects on pollution causing damage to our ozone layer for years now, and we all know the negative effects that it has had on our environment. But did you know that CO2 emissions also have a strong negative effect on our oceans? In fact, oceans absorb such a high amount of greenhouses gasses that they are actually slowing the effects of global warming on the surface. They absorb 22 million tons of CO2 in just one day, causing oceans to see a 25% increase in acidity in the past 200 years.

A snail affected by acidified water.
This snail’s shell has been corroded by CO2, giving it the pearlized look near the center.

If this trend continues, before the year 2100 we will lose much of our sea life, beginning with shelled organisms such as oysters, lobsters, shellfish, and coral, and eventually spreading to effect fish and other sea life. Even in the early stages, these changes will ultimately unbalance ecosystems in our ocean and offset the food chain. In addition to this, oceans can only handle absorbing so much of our carbon emissions. Eventually, their ability to absorb these gasses will diminish, furthering the effects of global warming in our atmosphere.

Carbonic acid rising from the sea floor.
In Castello Aragonese, bubbles of CO2 rise from the sea floor and dissolve to form carbonic acid. This shows us oceans all over the world could look like in the future.                           For comparison, the photo at the top of this post was taken just a few yards away and shows healthy sea floor.

The sea around Castello Aragonese is very acidic because of carbonic acid rising from the sea floor due to volcanic vents. Studies of this ecosystem have given us insight into what much of our oceans will look like within the next 100 years. The sea floor is covered in sea grass devoid of coral or other organisms that would normally flourish. In fact, there are not many organisms other than grass, jellyfish, and barnacles – which makes for a very unbalanced ecosystem.

Don’t want that to become the global picture of our oceans? National Geographic has a list of things you can do within your every day life to help save our oceans. Join Pearls International in our quest for sustainability!

View more stunning photos here.

source: nationalgeographic.com

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