Will acid seas result in giant shellfish?

As the world’s seawater becomes more acidic due to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, some shelled marine animals may actually become bigger and stronger, suggests research by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The finding could have important implications for ocean food webs and the multi-billion dollar global market for shellfish and crustaceans, the university said in a statement released today.

“Previous research has shown that ocean acidification–the term for falling pH levels in the Earth’s oceans as they absorb increasing amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere–is likely to slow the growth or even dissolve the shells of such creatures,” UNC said in the statement.

“However, the new study, published in the December issue of the journal Geology, suggests that sediment-dwelling marine organisms may exhibit a wider range of responses to CO2-induced acidification than previously thought: some may get weaker while others become stronger.”

David Braun, National Geographic, 1 December 2009. Full article.

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