Shellfish decreasing in size from global warming

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), together with colleagues from Australia’s James Cook and Melbourne Universities and the National University of Singapore reported the latest results of the effect of global warming on shellfish in the journal Global Change Biology on August 5, 2012. The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site the same day.

The researchers captured and examined clams, sea snails, lampshells and sea urchins living in 12 different environments from the tropics to the polar regions.

The common factor cited was a decrease in shell size and weight in shell fish across the world.

The largest decrease in shell thickness and size was reported from polar oceans. The Southern Oceans have been shown to be a massive carbon sink by recent research.

The major component of shellfish shells is calcium carbonate. Higher acidity in the oceans produces a lower availability of calcium carbonate that results in thinner smaller shellfish shells.

The fact that the effect on shellfish is occurring worldwide lends credence to the researcher’s conclusion that acidification of the world’s oceans by carbon dioxide is causing the change in shellfish shells.

A thinner lighter shell provides less protection from physical damage. Limited availability of calcium carbonate to grow larger shells limits the size of shellfish.

The animals and people who depend on shellfish for food are threatened as well as the shellfish according to the scientists.

Paul Hamaker,, 6 August 2012. Article.

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