Ocean Acidification

Ryan McMinds via Flickr Creative Commons

Warming temperatures and ocean acidification are significant threats to coral reefs, but a new study by Mote Marine Laboratory researchers last month provides something of a silver lining.   Researchers found that ocean acidification could actually help slow the progression of a disease that kills corals.

Photos: Mote, Wikimedia Commons/Flickr Creative Commons

Gulf Coast Live is going on location behind the scenes at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota.

We’ll talk about the exhibits the lab offers, and the research they do into the animals and marine environment along Florida’s Gulf Coast and beyond. Evan Barniskis, Assistant Vice President of Mote Aquarium, talks us through the exhibits alongside Amanda Foltz, an aquarium biologist who helps to care for the otters in Mote's otter exhibit.

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Researchers around the world say mollusks are threatened because of climate change. There are about 70,000 kinds of mollusks, ranging from clams to octopi. 

They say young mollusks are vulnerable to things like ocean acidification because their shells are soft. They’re worried that can cut down populations or even cause them to disappear.

Ocean Acidification has been an acknowledged problem in Florida’s waters since the late 1990s. It’s caused by cement production and the burning of fossil fuels. Those emit carbon dioxide into the air, and it builds in the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that causes global warming. And about a third of all that CO2 dissolves into the ocean, causing Ocean Acidification. It actually changes the chemistry of the water, and has negative effects on the organisms living in it.

Acid levels are rising in Florida’s waters, causing marine life to change. Florida educators, researchers and federal representatives discussed the potential effects at Mote Marine Laboratory recently.