thinner shellfish shells

The number of shelled creatures in the ocean is truly dizzying. And we need them — they are keystone species for everything from building coral reefs to anchoring the ocean food chain to making a killer linguine and clam sauce.

But as carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere, ocean water becomes more acidic. And shellfish have trouble growing their shells.

Scientists have worried for years about ocean acidification affecting shelled creatures in the future, but according to a new study, it’s already happening, and has been for over a hundred years.

Led by Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University in New York, a team of researchers grew Northern quahog clams and Atlantic bay scallops under varying CO2 concentrations. What was surprising was how sensitive the animals were to increasing CO2.

In the researchers’ experiment, that was already enough to stunt shellfishes’ growth and make their shells thinner.

Heat Is Online, 1 Oct 2010 –