The marine life along the US West Coast appears to be in danger as scientists have said that they have found highly acidified water, which may severely harm the aquatic life in the area. According to researchers, several organisms living under water are quite sensitive to changes and PH, hence highly acidified ocean water poses a potential threat.
“Highly acidified ocean water is potentially dangerous because many organisms are very sensitive to changes in pH,” said Francis Chan, marine ecologist at Oregon State University in the US.
According to researchers, the California Current System, where planktonic pteropods or small swimming snails were documented with severe shell dissolution, has already been witnessing the negative impacts.
“This is about more than the loss of small snails,” said Richard Feely, senior scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.
“These pteropods are an important food source for herring, salmon and black cod, among other fish,” said Feely.
The other species that may be facing potential risk include oysters, mussels and many organisms that live in tidepools or other near-shore habitats.
A three year survey of the California Current System was carried out by the researchers who developed network of sensors in order to measure ocean acidification over a three-year period along more than 900 kilometres of the West Coast.
It was observed that near-shore pH levels that fell well below the global mean pH of 8.1 for the surface ocean, and reached as low as 7.4 at the most acidified sites, which is among the lowest recorded values ever observed in surface waters.
Persistent, highly acidified water throughout this ecologically critical near shore habitat, with ‘hot spots’ of pH measurements as low as any oceanic surface waters in the world was found by the researchers.
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They also found ‘refuges’ of more moderate pH environments that could become havens for some marine organisms to escape more highly acidified waters, and which could be used as a resource for ecosystem management.
The study was published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
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(With inputs from PTI)