Oceans absorb excess CO2, which we produce in spades, from the air. Scientists have known that this would lead to ocean acidification, but levels are rising faster than expected. In the Pacific Northwest, farmed and wild oyster populations are declining sharply because the high acidity prevents larvae from forming shells. To combat this in farmed shellfish operations, producers in the Northwest are controlling and buffering the intake of seawater to balance the pH level of the water in the oyster beds. Also, Washington State recently launched an initiative to increase oyster beds because the animals are effective at filtering out pollutants, such as fertilizer run-off, from seawater.
But acidification in open oceans, where corals are especially at risk, is a growing concern. Plus, while shellfish, corals and sea urchins were initially seen as the main victims of acidification, researchers from Stony Brook University have published a study showing that acidification is also likely to fish increase mortality of fish, at the egg and larval stages.
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