Ocean acidification

Ocean acidification damages the basic building blocks of life.

Humans are changing the ocean’s chemistry. Seawater absorbs much of the carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere; more enters the water from land-based sources. The result is an increase in acidity that damages the basic building blocks of life needed by oysters, clams, corals and other animals to make their shells and skeletons.

Cold waters accelerate this dynamic; the impacts from ocean acidification are being seen right now in the Arctic and in the Pacific Northwest. Ocean Conservancy is working with partners across the United States to raise awareness of this threat to our coastal communities.

Incomes and Seafood Supplies at Risk

Local businesses, particularly shellfish producers in Washington and Oregon and up and down the Atlantic Coast, are feeling the harmful impacts of ocean acidification today. One family business in Oregon that supplies oysters to many growers discovered its oyster larvae were dying simply because they were unable to survive in more acidic ocean water.

Shellfish growers on both coasts note the threat ocean acidification poses to their livelihoods as they struggle to keep businesses up and running. As the dangerous acidification trajectory continues upward, shellfish, including oysters, mussels and crabs, may soon become scarce on people’s dinner plates —and hard to come by for hungry ocean wildlife.

Focus on Local Solutions

Ocean Conservancy is getting the word out to make sure people understand this complex ocean threat. We need to reduce our carbon emissions to tackle ocean acidification at its root. There are also things we can do locally to protect jobs, businesses and the unique way of life our coastal communities support. We’re working with partners and people on the front lines to create support for local and regional actions to address acidification.

Support our work to fight the changing chemistry of seawater and other challenges that threaten a healthy ocean and a thriving seafood supply.

Ocean Conservancy, October 2012. Web site.

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