A Quick Guide to Ocean Acidification

by: Samantha Murray

Hands down, Oregon has one of the most stunning coastlines in the world. And if you’ve ever watched the sun set behind Haystack Rock, lined up to catch a wave at Short Sands, or caught a glimpse of the grey whales at Depoe Bay, it would be easy to believe all is well in the ocean. Unfortunately, things are not always as they seem.

Beneath the surface of this vast and powerful body of blue-green water, there is a secret: our shared, global ocean is getting warmer and it’s getting more acidic. It’s absorbing carbon dioxide at an alarming rate and that’s quickly changing the way animals grow, reproduce and live.

This cousin to climate change is called “ocean acidification” and it happens when carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater and changes the ocean’s chemistry. Ocean acidification is causing the biggest impacts to oysters, clams and corals, though scientists are just beginning to study effects on crab, urchin and other marine life. According to an October 15th, 2015 opinion piece by two leading international scientists, ocean acidification nearly collapsed the annual $117 million West Coast shellfish industry, which supports more than 3,000 jobs.

As someone who has spent the better part of the last 15 years working to protect our coast and ocean, I care deeply about this issue. Which is why I am so proud to be working for OEC, an organization that is tackling ocean acidification at it’s root, by promoting comprehensive carbon reduction policies and developing eco-friendly transportation options.

OEC’s work is crucial not only because of the visible impacts climate change has on our air and weather, but also because of what we can’t see, just beneath the surface. After all, healthy and diverse ocean life –from plankton to Steller sea lions—translate to thriving coastal communities and a stronger Oregon. And that’s good for everyone

To learn more about ocean acidification, please see this page from Ocean Conservancy.


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