A century of ocean acidification

ENN’s reporting on the future effects of acidic seawater and things don’t look great for echinoderms (the starfish family). Sea urchins were the guinea pigs in recent experiments conducted by scientists from the University of Gothenburg in Australian waters.

The sea urchins studied were allowed to reproduce in water with a pH of 7.7, which is roughly three times more acidic than its normal 8.1, and also corresponds to where the researchers extrapolate ocean pH will be in 2100.

"University of Gothenburg researchers, Jon Havenhand and MichaelThorndyke, say that this acidification process of the oceans affectsthe sea urchin profoundly. Like most invertebrates, the sea urchinmultiplies by releasing its eggs to be fertilized in the open water.However, in a more acidic marine environment, the sea urchin’s abilityto multiply goes down by 25 percent, as its sperm swim more slowly andmove less effectively. If fertilization is successful, their larvaldevelopment is disturbed to the extent where only 75 percent of theeggs develop into healthy larvae."

In other words, the ocean of tomorrow looks like an inhospitable place for raising a sea urchin family, at the very least. You can read the whole article here.

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