Charting Nature has been working with Dr. Lisa Suatoni of the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) to get the word out about ocean acidification and how it will impact ocean ecosystems and the animals living in them. Shellfish and coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification and in consequence the entire web of life in the ocean.
Ocean acidification is the consequence of the oceans absorbing CO2 emissions. While most CO2 is absorbed into the atmosphere creating a greenhouse effect, since the Industrial Revolution, the ocean has absorbed 25% of these emissions.
Shellfish absorb molecules from the ocean around them to build their shells. Shellfish—from very small terapods to larger fish are threatened because rising acidity depletes these molecules. Ocean acidity weakens coral reefs for the same reason. The molecules coral needs to absorb to build their skeletons are depleted by rising acidity levels causing reef collapse and threatening the million species living in them.
Ocean acidity also threatens the fishing industry and fishing communities—people who survive on a healthy ocean. Acidity rises the fastest in cold-water regions, which are coincidentally the most prolific fishing waters.
The NRDC uses scientific illustrations from Charting Nature to articulate who will be affected by the acidification of the ocean and how. Illustrations of fish and shellfish help us visualize the physical aspects of how life is threatened—life in the ocean and by extension our own. Alaskan seafood industry is in danger from ocean acidification since creatures like the King Crab and fish whose food source is threatened by high acid levels and unsustatinable fishing practices are in danger. You can learn more about ocean acidification from Lisa Suatoni in collaboration with other scientists, fish experts, and narrated by Sigourney Weaver on the NRDC site. Robert Redford has also collaborated with the NRDC to speak out against fossil fuel emissions and destructive fuel industries.
The ocean is extremely resilient and we can help it to heal by helping boost its immunity and bolstering the health of the natural systems it needs to be strong. One important way to help is through sustainable fishing practices, which allow fish populations to regenerate and keep the ocean healthy.
We all benefit from biological diversity in the ocean and from keeping the waters of our planet healthy and resilient.
For more information on Ocean Acidification go to http://www.nrdc.org/oceans/acidification/