The increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads to the fact that more and more of it is dissolved in the water of the World Ocean. This leads to a decrease in pH - an increase in the acidity of the environment, which, in turn, leads to the "leaching" of carbonates from it, which play a key role in the formation of skeletons and shells of many sea creatures.
They are necessary for the formation of shells of mollusks and crustacean shells, foraminiferal skeletons and fish teeth. Reduced availability of carbonates makes them especially vulnerable against the backdrop of increasingly serious pressure from humans and their economic activities. And it seems that this impact is even more serious than it seemed until now.
American zoologists, led by Nina Bednaršek, investigated the development of the larvae of the dungeon crabs (Metacarcinus magister), which live in the Pacific Ocean off the western coast of North America. Previous laboratory experiments have shown that they can be relatively resistant to a drop in water pH. However, field observations have shown that this is not the case.
In an article published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, biologists report a study of crabs collected during a 2016 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expedition. Their shells were severely damaged and partially dissolved by acidified ocean water. In addition, scientists note both damage to the mechanoreceptors of animals and the associated impairment of sensory and behavioral functions.
“Since crabs are already experiencing this impact, we should pay more attention to all elements of the oceans food chain - before it's too late,” says Nina Bednarcek.