Ocean acidification. If you haven't heard of it before, get to know it now. It’s more proof that we humans have really screwed up when it comes to taking care of the ecosystem.
Since we started using machinery that needs fuel to run, the pH of the world's oceans has dropped, meaning the water is becoming acidic (too much carbon dioxide). This has horrible effects on marine creatures that make shells or use shells, eat other creatures that make or live in shells, and the animals that eat the fish that eat the creatures that make or live in shells. Hello – that’s us humans.
Scientists have started studying sea life around carbon dioxide vents in the Mediterranean Sea to get an idea of how high levels of carbon may affect marine organisms living in the more acidic waters. The findings are scary: coral was absent and species of algae that use calcium carbonate were displaced in favour of species that do not use it. Snails were seen with their shells dissolving.
How does acidification occur? Carbon dioxide (CO2) becomes dissolved into water (H2O) and binds with it to make carbonic acid (H2CO3). In other words, 2 hydrogen atoms plus one carbon atom plus three oxygen atoms equal carbonic acid.
If you ever used Coca Cola to clean a penny you’ve seen carbonic acid at work. It will eat through that penny if it’s given enough time. That same carbonic acid will also eat through a snail shell or a coral colony.
Video: Ecological Effects Of Ocean Acidification
Watch & Learn
On August 12, 2009, tune in to Discover Planet Green at 10 p.m. EST/PST for a very important premiere of a new show called Acid Test. The documentary – presented by the National resources Defense Council – is all about ocean acidification.
The film is narrated by Sigourney Weaver and, if you miss it this evening, it will be airing on Discover Green Planet throughout August.
In honor of Blue August, Discovery Green Planet will be featuring online content and TV programming about the study of our Earth’s oceans and their hidden mysteries.