Sea sick

Rising acid levels, floating trash are signs of ocean peril

It isn’t obvious from the beaches on the scenic Sonoma Coast, but the health of the world’s oceans is tenuous.

From declining fish stocks to rising levels of acid to a swirling vortex of discarded plastic in the northern Pacific, there are signs that the world’s oceans could present the next environmental crisis.

A new emphasis on protecting streams offers hope for restoring fisheries, as do plans to remove dams on the Klamath River and elsewhere that have kept salmon from reaching their historic spawning grounds.

This summer, California created 22 marine protection zones along the coast from San Francisco Bay to Mendocino County, which should help restore stocks of rock fish and abalone, offering more hope to the state’s beleaguered fishing industry. Similar ocean sanctuaries already were established between Santa Barbara and Half Moon Bay, and more are likely along California’s 1,100 miles of coastline.

Meanwhile, scientists at UC’s Bodega Bay Marine Lab are focused on the threat to marine life from the changing chemistry of ocean water.

Researchers say rapidly rising levels of carbon dioxide in the air — a result of global climate change — are being replicated in the ocean. That, in turn, results in higher levels of acid in ocean water., 12 September 2009. Full article.

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