Think of the pteropods!

The pteropods! Won’t somebody think of the pteropods!

Pteropods are adorable little planktonic sea snails that go swimming about the open ocean looking impossibly cute. They’re also quite important, being a major component of the diets of zooplankton, herring, salmon, whales and other marine creatures.

Unfortunately, pteropods may be facing a rather sudden extinction because of that “other” carbon dioxide problem, ocean acidification.

About a third of the carbon dioxide produced by man is absorbed by the world’s oceans, and the consequences for many marine species look like being catastrophic.When CO2 dissolves into seawater it creates carbonic acid, which makes the seawater more acidic. (Technically, it makes it less alkaline since seawater is on the alkaline side of neutral, but it’s still the same thing). This reduces the availability of the carbonate ions that pteropods and many other marine animals need to make their shells.

Brad Newsome, The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 January 2011. Full article.

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