The Pacific Ocean is so acidic right now that crab shells are dissolving. Lower pH levels in the ocean waters are causing parts of the Dungeness crab shells to dissolve.
The latest discovery was announced in a study that was published this month in the Journal Science of the Total Environment and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The corrosive effects of the acidity were found in crab larvae.
It is still unclear as yet how it affects the adult crabs.
Crabs have tiny hair-like structures that they use to navigate their environments, but those are getting damaged by the low pH levels.
Most of the damage is received by the upper shell of the crabs, which is called the carapace.
According to the authors of the study, this is something researchers have never seen before happening with animals in the sea.
Richard Feely, the co-author of the study and a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said, “We found dissolution impacts to the crab larvae that were not expected to occur until much later in this century.”
The study says the injuries the crabs get impair them from fending off predators.
The shells of the crabs also help them regulate their buoyancy in the Pacific Ocean or in the water.
Nina Bednarsek, the lead author of the study, who is a senior scientist at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, said, “If the crabs are affected already, we really need to make sure we pay much more attention to various components of the food chain before it is too late.”
The study that was published this month in the journal Science of the Total Environment suggests that oysters, planktons, and clams are going to be affected by this phenomenon.
The animals that we listed above rely on the same carbonate ions to build structures such as shells.
The ocean is acidifying because more carbon dioxide is being absorbed from the atmosphere, which lowers the pH levels in the water.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say humans should reduce the carbon footprint so the ocean can absorb less amount of carbon dioxide.