Humans are changing the ocean’s chemistry. Seawater absorbs much of the carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere; In addition, more carbon is entering the water from land-based sources. In coastal regions, runoff, stormwater and other pollution makes the situation worse.
The result is an increase in acidity that damages the basic building blocks of life needed by oysters, clams, corals and other animals to make their shells and skeletons.
Cold waters accelerate this dynamic; the impacts from ocean acidification are being seen right now in the Arctic and in the Pacific Northwest. Ocean Conservancy is working with partners across the United States to raise awareness of this threat to our coastal communities.
The West Coast is on the frontline of this issue due to its unique geography, leading to colder, deeper, more corrosive water arriving on its shores.
At the same time, there is growing concern that these types of effects could be felt along the Atlantic Coast.
Shellfish growers on both coasts note the threat ocean acidification poses to their livelihoods as they struggle to keep businesses up and running. In 2014, a Canadian shellfish farming company reported that they lost 10 million scallops and $10 million due to ocean acidification. As the dangerous acidification trajectory continues upward, shellfish, including oysters, mussels and crabs, may soon become scarce on people’s dinner plates —and hard to come by for hungry ocean wildlife.
Ocean Conservancy is getting the word out to make sure people on both the East Coast and West Coast understand this complex ocean threat. We need to reduce our carbon emissions to tackle ocean acidification at its root.
There are also actions we can take locally to reduce runoff and support research investments to protect jobs, businesses and the unique way of life our coastal communities sustain. We’re working with partners and people on the front lines to create support for local and regional actions to address acidification.
The ocean provides the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. Learn more about why the ocean matters to you.
Ocean Conservancy works to keep the ocean healthy, to keep us healthy.
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