Are your oysters and shellfishes becoming more brittle? New studies have found that to be true. But thankfully, researchers have found a tool to at least keep a track on the causes of this phenomenon.
It is a well-known fact that ocean water absorbs carbon dioxide from the air. Carbon dioxide in small quantities largely doesn’t cause big changes in the ocean water, but since the last few decades the carbon dioxide emissions in the world have rapidly increased. Too much carbon dioxide, when absorbed by the ocean water, turns the water acidic. This acidic water is not favorable for the calcium based shells of oysters and shell-fishes. This is because the acidic water depletes minerals from the seawater, needed by those creatures. This could not only have an adverse effect on the marine ecology but also affect the business of shell fish industry.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration though have come up with a tool which can gather data about the acidic levels of the ocean water. The tool has been placed on the shell fish hatcheries sites in Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska and Hawaii to monitor and gather real-time ocean acidification data.
Jan Newton, an oceanographer from the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory is leading the research. He believes that the new tool will be the go-to source for ocean acidification data along the West Coast.
Mr. Newton explains, “This makes valuable data more easily accessible, and it will increase our scientific understanding of how similar or different conditions are throughout the Pacific.”
The Federal, tribal and state governments, private companies and nonprofit organizations have combined forces to monitor ocean acidification.
The data obtained from the tool will not only be used to study the effects of rising levels of carbon emission, but will provide valuable advice to the shellfish farmers. Using the data they can decide when to grow the larvae, set the baby oysters on the field and even decide when to take in the seawater for their tanks.
“That’s really powerful,” Newton added, “For shellfish growers, having the access to the data off their local site is important.”
The project which is funded Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems’ U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System will run for at least 3 more years. The data will be provided to other ocean observatories to help them in their study of the changing conditions of ocean waters.