Animal Writes
From 25 July 2004 Issue

Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Threaten Marine Animals
By Dennis O'Brien
Sun Staff,0,6046636.story?coll=bal-health-headlines 

Studies show it interferes with shell formation; North Atlantic has highest levels; Separate report suggests new approach to fisheries

July 16, 2004: The world's oceans not only have fewer fish these days, but carbon dioxide pollution threatens the survival of shellfish, coral and other hard-bodied sea animals, researchers said in three studies released today.

"The chemistry of seawater is changing in dramatic ways and it's having a significant impact on organisms that live in the water," said Richard Feely, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle who studied carbon dioxide's effect on marine life.

Meanwhile, another group of international scientists called for overhauling management of the world's fisheries, citing declining fish populations.

Taken together, the reports in today's issue of the journal Science paint a bleak picture of the oceans' ability to sustain current levels of aquatic life.

Numerous studies have documented how rising carbon dioxide levels - largely from the burning of fossil fuels - are affecting climate, human health and vegetation. But scientists are just beginning to understand their effect on the seas.

"Up until recently, the ocean's ability to take up so much carbon dioxide has been seen as a good thing, but it's becoming increasing apparent it can also have adverse effects," said Ken Caldeira, a researcher at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

In its research, NOAA analyzed 72,000 ocean water samples collected by scientists around the world between 1989 and 1998.

One study found that since 1800, the oceans have absorbed 118 billion metric tons of carbon, making the seas a "sink" for half the fossil fuel emissions since the dawn of the industrial revolution. And 1.9 billion tons of carbon are being added each year, scientists said.

[See the rest of this story at,0,6046636.story?coll=bal-health-headlines ]

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