Acidifying Oceans Threaten US Oyster Industry, Stocks

Acidifying oceans are affecting the ability of oysters to reproduce, threatening the northwest US oyster industry, reports Tim Radford at Climate Central.  Rising CO2 levels increases its absorption by oceans, and increases oceanic acidity.  Oyster farms have been failing for several years, and now scientists have identified the specific problem.  Baby oysters have about 48 hours to form a shell and feeding mechanism using the limited energy from their egg sac. The increased acidity slows shell formation and increases the energy needed to do so. Thus, oyster larvae fail to develop.  Scientists say there are interventions that can be introduced at hatcheries. Some hatcheries  have started to “buffer” the water supplies in commercial hatcheries that supply the marine and estuary oyster beds − essentially, adding antacids to incoming waters. But the risk still exists for wild stocks of oysters, which, a 2011 global survey found, have already declined about 85% from historic abundances. That decline was probably due to overharvesting and disease made worse by the introduction of alien species, the survey concluded.  But rising oceanic acidity  could make more stocks disappear.

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Acid Oceans Threaten Billion $ Oyster Biz reports Tim Radford at Climate News Network. Baby oysters have only 48 hours to form a shell and feeding mechanism before they run out of energy, and the acid can lethally slow down shell formation. This might be finessed inside hatcheries, but it’s bad news for wild oysters – and other marine creatures that depend on the right marine chemistry….  http://www.climatecentral.org/news/acid-oceans-threaten-billion-dollar-oyster-business-16168

03 Feb 2011: World’s Oyster Populations Have Declined Precipitously, Study says. Roughly 85 percent of the world’s oyster beds have disappeared and in many locations oysters are functionally extinct due to overharvesting and disease, according to a new study. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-02/aiob-oar020211.php

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About melharte

Mel (Mary Ellen) Harte is a biologist (PhD) and climate change educator. She co-authored the free online book, COOL THE EARTH, SAVE THE ECONOMY, available at www.CoolTheEarth.US, and writes the CLIMATE CHANGE THIS WEEK column at the HuffingtonPost. Living summers in the alpine Rockies, she is on the frontlines of watching what climate change can do. Her diagnostic digital photographs of wildflowers have appeared in numerous publications.
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