Ocean acidification could threaten Alaska crab populations

Ocean acidification could threaten Alaska crab populations

Alaska researchers warn that the changing levels of ocean acidity could have grave consequences for red king crab populations in the Bering Sea.

The acidity of waters off Alaska could change dramatically over the next 50 years, leading to possible crab stock failure in about 100 years, said Robert Foy, director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Kodiak Laboratory.

A change in pH, the scale of acidity, is occurring as more carbon dioxide is dissolved in the water, Alaska's Energy Desk reported . Researchers expect ocean acidification to occur faster at locations in high latitudes like Alaska.

Through long-term experiments at the lab, Foy has been studying the effects of ocean acidification caused by climate change for about a decade. On tests with red king crabs, Foy said most of the crabs don't make it past early life stages under water conditions similar to what researchers predict for Alaska.

"If the results in the laboratory are accurate, and there's no acclimation, you would see stock failure about 100 years from now," Foy said.

In more acidic water, crabs have a harder time to make and maintain their shells. While some of the crabs survived, indicating there could be the potential to acclimate and adapt, Foy said there might not be enough time for those survival traits to be passed on.


Information from: KTOO-FM,

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