Our hyper acidic oceans

We may have to say goodbye soon to our favorite seafood treats such as oysters and other shellfish. It won’t be long before these marine products will be wiped out of the waters of the globe. But before they are forever gone, marine products will become so scarce that their prices will become more prohibitive in posh restaurants that only the rich could afford to dine on them. Fish and other seafood have become luxury food in many parts of the world already. The adage “Fish, is a poor man’s food” is anything but true.

Just a few decades ago, shellfish used to be abundant in seashores almost everywhere in the Philippines. Today one hardly sees any shellfish (or even just shells) on the beaches. I used to hear stories about people gathering shell fish (panginhason) in the shores of Calaparan where one could gather clams (imbao) plenty enough for a family’s decent meal. Today there’s hardly any trace of shell fish in the area.

Even oysters (talaba) which used to grow abundantly along the coastlines of Molo and Arevalo are now harder to find. Ask any “Talabahan” or seafood restaurant along Calumpang and they’ll tell you that they even go as far as Capiz to stock up on shell fish. Sporadic red tide caused by water pollution (among other things) has also made shellfish such as mussels a little unpalatable.

That’s because our polluted oceans have become so inhospitable to fragile ecosystems such as coral reefs and shell colonies. Human habitation, urban wastes and carbon emissions from automobiles and industries have found their way into bodies of water, making our oceans toxic.

A study by the United Nations Environment Program’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre raised serious concerns over the health of the world’s oceans. According to the study, a quarter of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the atmosphere are absorbed by seas and oceans. It is said that oceans have been absorbing greater amounts of CO2 from fossil fuels, deforestation and other human activities.

While this helps minimize the effects of global warming, CO2 in the ocean is upsetting the fragile balance between ecology and marine life.

Changes in the chemical balance in oceans make our sea waters more acidic, threatening marine life. Scientists predict that by the year 2050, oceans will be 150% more acidic than today. And the year 2050 is just about 40 years away—which is not enough time for sea organisms to evolve or adapt to higher acid levels in the ocean and major changes in the ecosystem.

Stanley Palisada, The News Today, 16 December 2009. Article.

1 Response to “Our hyper acidic oceans”

  1. 1 Jean-Pierre Gattuso 19 December 2009 at 11:10

    The title of this article is unfortunate because, despite the process of ocean acidification, the oceans are alkaline and will not become (hyper) acidic (pH lower than 7) even in the distant future.

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