Monday, 15 October 2012

Oysters' Future Imperiled as Oceans Acidify

Monterey, Calif. — Oysters, those slimy mollusks whose juices are thought to boost sexual desire, may be losing their comfy sea homes.

The reason? Global oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb carbon dioxide pumped into the air from burning fossil fuels, which makes it difficult for calcifying organisms like oysters to create their shells.

The ocean is now 30 percent more acidic than it was before the Industrial Revolution.

At the Ocean Acidification meeting here this month, Anneliese Hettinger of UC Davis presented new research showing that Olympia oysters are smaller after being exposed, as larvae, to a high carbon-dioxide environment. The negative impacts of early exposure to carbon dioxide stuck with the juvenile oysters for at least four months into their lives, stunting their growth.

"We have to take a holistic approach when looking at the oyster instead of only focusing on one life stage," Hettinger said at the meeting.

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