Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Technology

Ocean acidification threatens global shellfish stocks

Monday, August 06, 2012 - 02:33

Aug. 6 - Global shellfish populations are under increasing pressure brought about by ocean acidification. Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey say that oysters, mussels and crabs are finding it more difficult to develop their shells, making them vulnerable to predators and an overall decline that could impact other parts of the ecosystem. Jim Drury reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

The world's shellfish are in trouble, according to findings by polar scientists. Oysters, mussels, lobsters and crabs are finding it harder than ever to develop their protective shells, making them vulnerable to predators. The British Antarctic Survey says ocean acidification caused by climate change is to blame for the thinning shells. Professor Lloyd Peck led the research conducted at 12 sites across the world. He says the calcium carbonate needed by the creatures to build their shells is increasingly difficult for them to extract. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR LLOYD PECK, BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY, SAYING: "We've looked at these animals and their skeletons across temperature ranges because that's going to mimic what acidification is going to do in the sea. And what we've found is that where it gets colder and the calcium carbonate is harder to get out of the seawater the animals have thinner skeletons. So it looks very much as if pH changes in the future and acidified oceans will force animals to have smaller skeletons." The current threat is greatest in the polar regions, but will soon affect warmer climes. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR LLOYD PECK, BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY, SAYING: "One of the critical times is when the calcium carbonate becomes under-saturated, so it becomes less than fully saturated in seawater. That's predicted to happen in Antarctica between 2040 and 2050, and in the tropical regions and in the temperate regions between 2050 and 2100, so we're looking at somewhere between the next 50 and 100 years for seeing those changes from saturated water to under-saturated water in many places around the world, but sooner than that in Antarctica." Human emissions of greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, some of it dissolving in the ocean to form acid. Seafood consumers will inevitably be affected, according to Peck, although he's more concerned with potential damage to the ecosystem. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR LLOYD PECK, BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY, SAYING: "There are animals that we eat that are used for food consumption, like oysters and mussels and crabs and lobsters, they all make skeleton out of calcium carbonate and if it becomes very hard for them to make skeletons it means that it's likely to have a problem for their production for human consumption, but it also has problems on the ecological side because animals with hard skeletons are fundamental parts of the ecosystem." The survey's the latest in a series of warnings made by the scientific community about the harmful effects of global climate change. Jim Drury, Reuters

Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code

Ocean acidification threatens global shellfish stocks

Monday, August 06, 2012 - 02:33

Editors' Picks »

Moving Pictures »

Images of November Images of November

Tue, 02 Dec, 2014 - (0:30)

Images of October Images of October

Mon, 03 Nov, 2014 - (0:57)

The world in a city The world in a city

Fri, 31 Oct, 2014 - (1:30)

Real-life superheroes Real-life superheroes

Tue, 28 Oct, 2014 - (1:44)

Dance of the northern lights Dance of the northern lights

Mon, 20 Oct, 2014 - (1:08)

Images of September Images of September

Thu, 02 Oct, 2014 - (1:00)

Still missing – MH370 Still missing – MH370

Fri, 05 Sep, 2014 - (2:05)

Burning Together Burning Together

Mon, 01 Sep, 2014 - (2:23)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, 22 Aug, 2014 - (3:12)

Images of August Images of August

Fri, 29 Aug, 2014 - (1:00)

Oddly Enough »

Bad bear to attack Santa! Bad bear to attack Santa!

Thu, 18 Dec, 2014 - (0:42)

Navy unveils robot fish Navy unveils robot fish

Thu, 18 Dec, 2014 - (0:42)

French students dig WWI trench to relive warfare French students dig WWI trench to relive...

Wed, 17 Dec, 2014 - (1:16)

Santa abseils down Berlin high-rise Santa abseils down Berlin high-rise

Mon, 15 Dec, 2014 - (1:06)

The Christmas spirit heads underwater The Christmas spirit heads underwater

Thu, 11 Dec, 2014 - (1:01)

Newly released U.S. military video shows apparent airstrikes against militants in Syria Newly released U.S. military video shows...

Wed, 10 Dec, 2014 - (0:46)

Afghanistan's Bruce Lee "reincarnation" becomes Internet sensation Afghanistan's Bruce Lee "reincarnation"...

Wed, 10 Dec, 2014 - (1:27)

Dateline Asia »

North Korea to blame for Sony hack: source North Korea to blame for Sony hack: source

Thu, 18 Dec, 2014 - (1:10)

China's child labor problem China's child labor problem

Thu, 18 Dec, 2014 - (2:19)

Measuring up North Korea's heir Measuring up North Korea's heir

Wed, 17 Dec, 2014 - (1:03)

Russia worries rock emerging markets Russia worries rock emerging markets

Wed, 17 Dec, 2014 - (1:14)

Seoul raises the "nut rage" stakes Seoul raises the "nut rage" stakes

Tue, 16 Dec, 2014 - (1:03)

Sydney in shock after hostage horror Sydney in shock after hostage horror

Tue, 16 Dec, 2014 - (1:07)

Not all merry and bright in China's manufacturing sector Not all merry and bright in China's...

Tue, 16 Dec, 2014 - (1:29)

Beneath the surface of Abe's big win Beneath the surface of Abe's big win

Mon, 15 Dec, 2014 - (1:15)

Some hostages escape from Sydney cafe Some hostages escape from Sydney cafe

Mon, 15 Dec, 2014 - (1:06)

Reuters Investigates »

Where the sea is closing in Where the sea is closing in

Thu, 20 Nov, 2014 - (3:41)

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, 19 Feb, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, 10 Jan, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (13:22)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, 05 Aug, 2013 - (1:36)