WELLINGTON, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) — The predicted acidification of the oceans with global climate change is putting at risk creatures such as the Antarctic sea urchin, New Zealand scientists warned Monday.
New Zealand and U.S. scientists working in McMurdo Station in Antarctica simulated the acidification of the ocean to conditions expected to the end of this century to measure the effects on the sea urchin, which is found throughout Antarctica in shallow depths and releases eggs and sperm into the water column when breeding.
At levels predicted for 2050 there was a 70-percent to 100- percent increase in the time that the sea urchin eggs were vulnerable to fertilization by a second sperm.
“As fertilization by more than one sperm is lethal, ocean acidification may therefore impact the number of embryos beginning larval development,” University of Auckland Associate Professor Mary Sewell said in a statement.
Combined with previous research by the team showing that the larval stage was particularly sensitive to ocean acidification, this could result in reduced numbers of young sea urchins in shallow coastal environments.
The lowering of pH, or ocean acidification, had previously been shown to impact the fertilization process in a wide variety of marine invertebrates.
“Antarctic species, such as pteropods and sea urchins, may provide early warning of the impacts of ocean acidification on shallow coastal ecosystems,” said Sewell.
Global Post, 9 December 2013. Article.