Creatures in acidic waters offer glimpse into oceans’ future

Liquid carbon dioxide bubbling out of an undersea volcano makes the surrounding water so acidic that few creatures can live in it.

But the animals that do survive are remarkable, reports biologist Verena Tunnicliffe at the University of Victoria and her colleagues, who are exploring a strange deepsea world in the Pacific that provides a glimpse of what the future could bring as greenhouse gases increase the acidity of the oceans.

Huge colonies of mussels, for instance, form dense colonies in the corrosive waters. But the animals’ shells, normally thick and opaque, are so thin the scientists can see right through them.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said UVic biologist Jonathan Rose, co-author of the report in Nature Geoscience this week describing the mussels that have adapted to life in the acidic water.

Margaret Munro (Canwest News Service),, 13 April 2009. Full article.

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