The ocean is acidifying because it’s absorbing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which lowers pH levels in the water.
…Ocean acidification changes the coasts, releasing excess nutrient that can create algae blooms and increasing sea temperatures and salinity, according to NOAA.
…For crustaceans and coral that rely on carbonate ions -which are less abundant in more acidic waters- to build their shells and coral skeletons, it becomes more difficult to build strong shells is the pH drops.
…The acidification corroded the young shells of Dungeness crab larvae.
…This could cause developmental delays that could mess with their rate of maturation.
The tiny hair-like structures crabs use to navigate their environments were damaged by the low pH levels, too — something scientists had never seen before. Crabs without these mechanoreceptors could move more slowly and have difficulty swimming and searching for food.
…The acidity wasn’t predicted to damage the crabs this quickly.
“If the crabs are affected already, we really need to make sure we pay much more attention to various components of the food chain before it is too late,” said study lead author Nina Bednarsek, a senior scientist with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project.