With ocean acidification becoming an increasingly pressing issue, marine biologists decided to investigate how shellfish and other animal species are responding to these changes in their surrounding environment.
Thus, they found that, as the ocean's chemistry is continually being altered by various human activities, shellfish now have troubles in developing. More precisely, the thickness of their shells is likely to diminish over the years, leaving them vulnerable to environmental threats.
Given the fact that said invertebrates are part and parcel of various animals' dietary preferences, and are also consumed by people in significant amounts, their becoming more vulnerable might have negative effects both on the natural balance of various ecosystems, and on our fishing industry, as fewer of them will get to develop up to the point when they can be eaten.
informs us that the marine biologists who reached this conclusion also found that ocean acidification is making it difficult for other aquatic animal species to grown their skeletons.
As the scientists explain, ocean acidification is responsible for blocking these animals' access to calcium carbonate, a chemical compound which stands at the basis of their shells and skeletons.
Thus, out of the four marine species placed under scrutiny (clams, sea snails, lampshells and sea urchins), all were found to be negatively responding to the changes presently occurring in oceanic chemistry.
However, the researchers also argue that, sooner or later, these animals might find ways of adapting to their new environmental conditions.
The same source quotes Dr. Sue-Ann Watson, now working with the James Cook University, who made a case of how, “"In areas of the world's oceans where it is hardest for marine creatures to make their limestone shell or skeleton, shellfish and other animals have adapted to natural environments where seawater chemistry makes shell-building materials difficult to obtain.”
Therefore, “Evolution has allowed shellfish to exist in these areas and, given enough time and a slow enough rate of change, evolution may again help these animals survive in our acidifying oceans.”
It is our belief that these findings should urge high officials to take immediate measures aimed at tackling ocean acidification and its effects on marine wildlife.