Mass Scallop Die Off a 'Red Flag' for the World's Oceans
Rise of carbon in the atmosphere raising acidity in oceans and causing 'cascading effect' at all levels of the food chain
- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer
(Flickr / thumeco / Creative Commons License)An increase of acidity in the Pacific Ocean is quickly killing off one of the world's most beloved shellfish, the scallop, according to a report by the British Columbia Shellfish Grower’s Association.
“By June of 2013, we lost almost 95 per cent of our crops,” Rob Saunders, CEO of Island Scallops in B.C. told Canada's CTV News.
The cause of this increase in acidity, scientists say, is the exponential burning of fossil fuels for energy and its subsequent pollution. Oceans naturally absorb carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fossil fuel emissions, which causes acidity to rise.
An overdose of carbon in the atmosphere subsequently causes too much acidity in the world's oceans, Chris Harley, a marine ecologist from the University of British Columbia, told CTV News. Overly acidic water is bad for shellfish, as it impairs them from developing rigid shells. Oyster hatcheries along the West Coast are also experiencing a steep decline, CTV News reports.
“This is a bit of a red flag,” said Harley.
And this red flag has a much bigger impact than one might imagine. “Whenever we see an impact at some level of the food chain, there is a cascading effect at other levels of the food chain,” said Peter Ross, an expert in ocean pollution science.
A recent study warned that ocean acidification is accelerating at a rate unparalleled in the life of the oceans—perhaps the fastest rate in the planet's existence—which is degrading marine ecosystems on a mass scale.