Ocean acidity: sea grass had better growth in acidic water, according to new study

Photo credit: Flickr

Photo credit: Flickr

Ocean acidification may not be all bad for one sea-dwelling plant, according to a study by researchers from James Cook University in Australia.

Dr. Catherine Collier and her team from JCU studied sea grass growing near underwater volcanic vents in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Carbon dioxide from the vents increases the acidity of nearby water, according to a news release. In the study, the researchers found that the plant growth increased as the water became more acidic.

“The increased growth has nothing to do with the acidified water as such, but increased acidification means more carbon, which means the sea grass photosynthesizes quicker,” said Dr. Collier.

In the ocean, sea grass is an essential habitat for many ocean species and it is also a main source of food. In addition, sea grass is a significant carbon sink, where it soaks up 15 percent of the carbon stored in the ocean every year. However, plants are declining at a rate of 7 percent per year due to pollution.

Collier claimed that one out of ten varieties of sea grass that was tested, survived better in acidic water. However, they are still questioning whether climates change will affect them.

“On the one hand, if acidification increases sea grass growth, they will be able to absorb more carbon from the ocean, which may slow the acidification,” Collier said. “On the other hand, acidification is bad for coral and erosion of the reef and rising sea levels could have detrimental effects on the sea grass meadows it protects.”

Collier claimed that further investigations on sea grass in the environment needs to be done, where other variables are taken into consideration.

Rosanna Singh, Science World Report, 20 October 2015. Article.

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