New tool helps oyster growers fight acidification
Add oysters to the list of your favorite foods threatened by climate change.
Dramatic failures of oyster populations began in 2006, when aquaculture operators saw die-offs of larvae rocket to 80 percent in the United States. At the time, the reason for these collapses was a mystery, but the science now indicates that rising carbon dioxide levels in the ocean from climate change is causing acidification that interferes with the ability of shellfish to form proper shells and thrive.
But there’s some good news. Thanks to a network of ocean monitors and a new Web portal, West Coast shellfish growers, researchers, and regular people can now find accurate, real-time data on the changing chemistry of nearshore environments with a simple mouse click. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and researchers at the University of Washington collaborated on the system, which should help growers fight the effects of acidification.
It’s the first time that real-time ocean acidification data has been crunched for public use, making the rapidly changing chemistry of the seas readily apparent and trackable for anyone—from high school science teachers to coastal conservation advocates.