Squids may have a harder time breathing with climate change

For several years, scientists have warned that the oceans’ absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is lowering its ph – an acidic threat to corals and other marine shells.

Now, researchers from the University of Rhode Island report in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ocean acidification could also severely impact Humboldt, or jumbo, squids. The squids, which can grow up to seven feet long are found in Pacific waters and are an important ocean predator as well as food for marine mammals, seabirds, and fish.

They also live an edgy life: The animals must recharge their blood oxygen supply constantly from the waters around them.

According to Brad Seibel, URI assistant professor of biological sciences, and Rui Rosa, a former URI post-doctoral student, squids are active during the night when they feed in oxygen rich shallow waters, but their metabolism dramatically slows during the day when the descend to the low oxygen deep sea. Increasing ocean acidification, along with warming temperatures, is expected to limit the amount of oxygen the squids can get from their nighttime feeding ground waters.

Beth Daley, The Boston Globe, 16 December 2008. Full article.

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