Trouble on the half shell

Four summers ago, Sue Cudd couldn’t keep a baby oyster alive.

She’d start with hundreds of millions of oyster larvae in the tanks at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Netarts, Oregon. Only a handful would make it.

Sometimes, they’d swim for a couple of weeks. But they’d stop developing before they grew a critical shell structure, or maybe the foot or eyespot. They’d feed poorly. One day, the larvae would simply die. A hatchery that has supplied seafood businesses for three decades had virtually nothing to sell for months, said Cudd, who owns the hatchery.

It’s tough to say with scientific certainty that ocean acidification is the sole cause of the die-offs that have plagued two of the Northwest’s three major oyster hatcheries in the last few years.

But this much seems clear: young oysters have a hard time surviving in conditions that will only become more widespread as carbon dioxide from cars, coal plants and other industries cause the fundamental chemistry of the ocean to become more acidic.

Scientists have linked the mass mortalities at Whiskey Creek with seasonal “upwelling” events drawing acidic and corrosive seawater that normally lurks down deep towards our beaches and shorelines. And that kind of water is likely to surface more often along the Pacific Coast as more carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere.

Jennifer Langston, Sightline Daily, 22 June 2011. Full article.

  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: