Search form

Donate Today

EarthFix

Dungeness Crab Vulnerable to Ocean Acidification in Unexpected Ways, Study Finds

Increasing acidification from carbon pollution will drive down food supplies for crab, according to new research.

January 13, 2017

Dungeness crab. Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

New research shows Dungeness crab fisheries could suffer as the Pacific Ocean grows more acidic.

Increasing acidification from carbon pollution will drive down food supplies for crab, according to new scientific modeling from the University of Washington and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It turns out that Dungeness crab were a lot more susceptible to the loss of their prey items than they were to direct impacts,” lead author Kristin Marshall said. “We should probably be thinking about doing more work with Dungeness crabs to understand that a bit better.”

The decline could mean significant downturns over the next 50 years for an industry worth an estimated $200 million dollars in the Pacific Northwest, according to NOAA.

This graphic from the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center shows the vulnerability of various sea life to increasing ocean acidification. NOAA

Marshall said the results were also partly encouraging. Outside of crab, other species showed more resilience to an increasingly acidic ocean than she expected.

For instance, the tiny sea snails and sea slugs known as pteropods, which are key food source for salmon, are likely less vulnerable to ocean acidification. Marshall's research found they are prolific enough to offset the impacts.

“This model suggests that there is some resilience in the system, which is heartening,” she said. “It’s not a doom and gloom story. But I'm hesitant to say things are very rosy, either, based on our work.”

 


SUPPORTED BY



An unusually quiet summer day at the Port of Willapa Harbor in Tokeland, Washington. Normally, crabbing boats would be going out to set crab pots or returning with a fresh catch. But a toxic algae bloom has closed the crab harvest.

Ashley Ahearn, KUOW/EarthFix

There are 0 comments

Read Comments Hide Comments

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <xmp><em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd></xmp>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
As a public media organization, KCTS 9 is committed to presenting a diversity of voices and perspectives through the stories we produce. We invite our readers to participate in an active and respectful discourse through our comments feature. All comments are moderated before posting to our website; if we deem a comment to be inappropriate and/or threatening, it will not be published.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.