A new study published Sunday in Nature Climate Change finds that ocean acidification could cause the Southern Ocean Antarctic krill population to crash by 2300, meaning dire consequences for whales, seals, penguins, and the entire ecosystem it supports. In addition to devastating ecosystem effects, a collapse in krill populations could have serious economic implications, as the species represents the region’s largest fishery resource.
Antarctic krill is a keystone species in the fragile Southern Ocean ecosystem. Predators such as whales, seals, and penguins rely on Antarctic krill as their primary food source. Without a stable base of krill to support these top predators, each of the links in the food web would deteriorate, potentially inducing entire ecosystem collapse. When you factor in the immediate economic hit that regional fisheries will surely face as well, krill population decline becomes a problem far larger than the mere centimeters-long species itself.
The study reports that important habitats in the Southern Ocean are likely to become high-risk areas for Antarctic krill within as little as a century. But how exactly does ocean acidification play a role? Oceans have always absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and act as vital buffers against climate change, but as man-made carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate, the oceans are now changing too fast for some animals to adapt. The result is a more acidic ocean. The Southern Ocean is particularly vulnerable because cold waters hold higher levels of carbon dioxide than warmer, more tropical waters. For Antarctic krill, whose eggs naturally sink to deeper, colder waters to hatch, the high carbon dioxide results in lower hatch rates, and will likely spell disaster for their populations and subsequently the entire Southern Ocean ecosystem.
The only truly effective way of combating ocean acidification and climate change is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Oceana is working to reduce the cause and effects of ocean acidification by promoting clean, renewable offshore wind development and fighting to stop the expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling. If we do not act immediately to combat ocean acidification and climate change, our oceans will reach a tipping point at which we can no longer prevent ecosystem collapse. Please help Oceana save the beautiful Southern Ocean ecosystem.
This article was written by Colin Cummings for Oceana.org
Share on social media:
You may also like:
Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days
- POLL: Should the cruel sport of bullfighting be banned? [2799 Views]
- POLL: Should South Africa’s canned hunting industry be banned? [1883 Views]
- POLL: Should Mozambique’s wildlife park be funded by trophy hunting? [1392 Views]
- POLL: Should the use of elephants for “entertainment” be banned? [1217 Views]
- POLL: Should Asia’s elephant tourism be banned? [968 Views]
- Bald Eagle Adopts Baby Hawk Instead of Eating Him [911 Views]
- POLL: Should wildlife-killing “cyanide bombs” be banned? [897 Views]
- POLL: Should the use of wild animals in circuses be banned? [880 Views]
- POLL: Should Yellowstone Grizzlies be removed from the Endangered List? [859 Views]
- POLL: Should the owning of exotic pets be banned? [745 Views]
Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months
- POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farms? [16900 Views]
- POLL: Should Congress disband Wildlife “Killing” Services? [11095 Views]
- Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [10111 Views]
- POLL: Should driven grouse-shooting be banned? [8689 Views]
- POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? [8233 Views]
- POLL: Should the killing of giraffes be outlawed? [4711 Views]
- POLL: Should the sale of elephant ivory be legalized? [4081 Views]
- POLL: Should foxes be culled to protect domestic pets? [3771 Views]
- POLL: Should the coyote continue to be exterminated? [3448 Views]
- POLL: Should the use of snares be banned in the UK? [2609 Views]