Acidic Oceans Affecting Sealife


Jay Barrett/KMXT

The prevailing theory says that as the climate warms, the oceans will absorb more carbon dioxide, which would shift the pH-balance in the seas, making them more acidic. That would wreak havoc for the sea life which make their shells out of calcium, and for animals further up the food chain that will no longer have anything to eat. And that includes those critters in the middle of the food chain that fishermen catch for a living.

For the first time, according to Alan Parks, outreach coordinator for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, scientists are seeing quantifiable evidence that acidic oceans are causing problems for commercial seafood operations, specifically, at the Whiskey Creek shellfish hatchery in Oregon.

(Acid 1 34 sec "They’ve been having … at the PH levels.")

The hatchery circulates about 100,000 gallons of seawater a day, and under certain conditions they found that water with a high concentration of C-O-2 was up-welling from the deep:

(Acid 2 30 sec "And so their bringing … they were dissolving.")

Jermey Mathis is a professor of chemical oceanography at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He says there are areas off Alaska’s coast which already exhibit the same conditions as off the Oregon coast:

(Acid 3 20 sec "Right now, today, there are … down in Oregon.")

With carbon levels continuing to rise in the atmosphere, the cold waters around Alaska and the arctic will continue to absorb as much as they can:

(Acid 4 25 sec "It’s going to get worse … move forward through time.")

Parks says that as the developing world increases its use of oil and coal, more carbon will be released. He says the same is true in rural Alaska, where diesel fuel generators are the main source of electricity. He suggested Alaska could be a leader in developing alternative and renewable energy in rural areas and then exporting that technology worldwide, which could help reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and the oceans.


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