(Editor’s note: EarthFix’s report last week on ocean acidification looked at what this means for Puget Sound and the Northwest. Here’s a PBS NewsHour collaboration with EarthFix examining the issue from a national perspective.)
Slip beneath the water’s surface and you’ll find a world teeming with life. Schools of yellowtail fish dart through colorful coral reefs. Spiny lobsters emerge from the crevices of ocean rocks searching for a tasty meal. And sea anemones nestle in the nooks of oyster beds.
But there is trouble in the world’s ocean.
Watch a video about how shellfish are impacted by ocean acidification during Friday evening’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour.
Scientists are learning more about how carbon dioxide is dramatically changing the makeup of the oceans and the communities that depend on them.
“Over the last 200 years, 550 billion tons of carbon dioxide have been absorbed by the oceans,” said Richard Feely, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s enough carbon dioxide to fill enough train cars to wrap around the world seven times each year.
We can already see ocean acidification at work in the oceans. In recent years, oyster larvae on the northwest coast have been dying off by the billions. The seawater is so corrosive that it eats away at the young oyster shells before they can form.
Watch the video report on how acidifying waters are impacting the U.S. shellfish industry.
(Co-produced and shot by EarthFix’s Katie Campbell and NewsHour’s Saskia de Melker)
For coral reefs, the challenges presented by increased carbon dioxide are even greater. Reefs are extremely sensitive to both warming and acidification. High water temperature causes corals to ‘bleach’ or expel the colorful algae that live in their tissue, exposing their skeletons. When pH dips, they have a harder time generating sturdy skeletons, and evidence shows that it’s harder for corals to reproduce when the ocean acidifies.… continued at PBS Newshour, where this story was originally posted.
Watch the video report of how Florida’s coral reefs are impacted by ocean acidification. (Produced by NewsHour’s Saskia de Melker. Underwater video by Frazier Nivens)
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