Rising ocean acidity slows marine fertilization


Rising acidification of the ocean could reduce fertilization ofmarine invertebrates and might eventually wipe out colonies of seaurchins, lobsters, mussels and oysters, according to a study.

Scientists knew that ocean acidification was eating away at theshells of marine animals, but the new study has found that risingacidity hindered marine sperm from swimming to and fertilizing eggs inthe ocean.

Climate change and the subsequent acidification of the world’soceans will significantly reduce the successful fertilization ofcertain marine species by the year 2100, said the report by Australianand Swedish scientists.

"If you look at projected rates (of acidity) for the year 2100, weare finding a 25 percent reduction in fertilization," lead-scientistJane Williamson from Macquarie University told Reuters on Friday.

"We were completely surprised because people had been looking at theeffect of acidification on calcified structures of marine animals, butthere was no evidence to suggest it was affecting non-calcifiedstructures, like a sperm or an egg," she said.

The surface of the ocean absorbs up to 30 percent of the world’syearly emissions of carbon dioxide. Absorbed carbon dioxide forms aweak acid that is gradually increasing the acidity of the oceans.

The study of sea urchins around southeast Australia found a linkbetween increased ocean acidity and a reduction in swimming speed andmotility of sea urchin sperm.


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