Monday May 2, 2022


Over the last century, the rapid increase of carbon dioxide concentrations in our atmosphere thanks to the combustion of fossil fuels has led to an observed increase in acidity and surface temperature of seawater. “The oceans have absorbed roughly one-third of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions related to human activities since the 1700s. Estimates of future carbon dioxide levels, based on business-as-usual emission scenarios, indicate that by the end of this century the surface waters of the ocean could be nearly 150 percent more acidic, resulting in a pH that the oceans haven’t experienced for more than 20 million years,” explains NOAA.

For good reason, ocean acidification is the “evil twin” of climate change. This overload of carbon dioxide in our oceans is often likened to osteoporosis, eating away at the minerals used by oysters, clams, lobsters, shrimp, coral reefs, and others to build their shells and skeletons. This is leaving them weak, fragile… and more at-risk then ever before.

However, it is still unclear whether the ‘corrosive’ effect of acidified seawater also impacts organisms that have body parts made of calcium phosphate minerals (e.g. shark teeth). Professor Sean Connell from the University of Adelaide set out to answer the question of whether or not ocean acidification and warming had an effect on the mechanical properties of shark teeth “because theory suggested that ocean acidification might reduce the strength of shark teeth and their ability to feed themselves.”

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