Waters Made Bitter: Pacific Ocean Is Becoming So Acidic That Crab Shells Are Dissolving

The Pacific Ocean is becoming so acidic it is starting to dissolve the shells of a key species of crab, the Dungeness crab.

Moreover, the acidic water damages and destroys the tiny scales on sharks’ skin, diminishing the shark ability to swim and hunt, thus wreaking havoc on the already-fragile ecosystems in which they live.

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ocean acidification dissolves crab shells and destroys shark skin.

People living along the US Pacific Northwest coast shouldn’t only be scared about the overdue Cascadia earthquake and tsunami, but also about their waters becoming blobby and more acidic. Yes, because, ocean acidification is bad and has nasty consequences on the marine life. It can turn fish into dangerous weapons as shown by last week needlefish attack in Indonesia. And it can have rather more devastating consequences… Right now the Pacific Ocean is becoming so acidic it is starting to dissolve the shells and sensory organs of a key species of crab and to destroy sharks’ denticles.

Ocean acidification along the US Pacific Northwest coast is impacting the shells and sensory organs of young Dungeness crab

A new study has determined that the Pacific Ocean’s increasingly acidity dissolves the shells of newly hatched Dungeness crabs.

The team of researchers used a scanning electron microscope to analyze samples of Dungeness crabs collected during a 2016 NOAA research cruise along the Pacific Northwest coast.

The new data show that increased acidity dissolves the shells and destroys sensory organs of young Dungeness crab, making them more vulnerable to predators, limiting shell effectiveness in supporting the growth of muscles and increasing the loss of important sensory and behavioral functions.

The effect of acidity on adult Dungeness crabs is still unknown

The researchers say that aberrant behavioral patterns found across various crustacean species such as slower movement, less tactile, prolonged searching time, as well as impaired swimming is mot probably due to increased acidity.

These new results have surprised more than a few biologists who were thinking that the Dungeness crab were not vulnerable to current levels of ocean acidification.

Now if the crabs are affected already, we really need to make sure we pay much more attention to various components of the food chain before it collapses. [Science Direct, NOAA]

Acidic oceans are destroying sharks’ skin

Another recent study has demonstrated that the acidic water is damaging the tiny scales on sharks’ skin, decreasing the shark habilities to swim and hunt, thus directly impacting on its fragile ecosystem.

The new results show that dentricle damage occur very fast – 9% destroyed after only nine weeks of exposure.

But other than damaged and destroyed tiny scales, they seem to be unharmed – sharks have indeed the faculty to adjust to the increasingly acidic water.

Both findings are a troubling sign for the future of marine life and a hint of the marine ecosystem collapse happening right under our eyes. More ecosystem collapse news on Strange Sounds or Steve Quayle. [Science Direct, NOAA, Nature]

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