Ocean Water's Increasing Acidification and Its Debilitating Effects on Marine Life

Khryss | Published 2017-09-28 19:57

Previous studies showed how the increase of carbon dioxide seeping into our ocean makes the bodies of water more acidic and less alkaline, ultimately affecting (lest killing) our marine organisms. This can destabilize biomes which is a fancy description of chaos.

With this in mind, researchers wanted to know what particular species would be impacted the most and how would this affect the entire marine food chain.

They specifically looked into copepods-- the most abundant species of planktons on Earth, living in the sea and nearly every freshwater habitat--as these are the food source of a lot of marine organisms like the dragonet, banded killifish, whales, alaska pollock and other crustaceans such as krill.

What happens to copepods affects all that depend on them, “which is pretty much everything,” says Edd Hammill of Utah State University in Logan. Copepods are actually known to be ocean- acidification-resistant but its effect on other creatures is still unknown.

So, they fed copepods to its cubozoan predator, the box jellyfish. They put both of these in tanks containing either normal seawater or acidified seawater predicted for 2100. Results showed that after 10 days, both the box jellyfish and water acidification reduced copepods numbers and, together, caused 27% more deaths. Not only that, the box jellyfish was eating more copepods (83%) in the acidified water than the normal seawater(37%).

Hammill thinks that the acidified water weakens the copepods, and that the jellies took advantage, but there might be other possibilities. “It could be the jellies are being negatively affected by the acidified water and are needing more prey to get along,” he says.

He plans to looking at the Arctic ecosystem for his next study. “It’s the most productive and one of the largest ecosystems [in] the world,” he says. If it shows the same result, it “could be a really big deal”.

Just how much damage did man inflict on nature? How much more?


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