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Oyster Decline Linked To Ocean Acidification

OPB | April 11, 2012 8:50 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:01 a.m.

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Researchers at Oregon State University have published their first scientific paper linking the collapse of oyster larvae in Netarts Bay to ocean acidification.

In 2008, about 75 percent of the oyster larvae at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery mysteriously died. Chemical oceanographer Burke Hales says it took awhile to prove what scientists suspected from the start. He says carbon dioxide in the ocean was creating corrosive water and preventing the oysters from developing shells.

This week Hales and two other scientists published their findings in the journal Limnology and Oceanography.

“We started working on this in 2009 and we thought at the time we knew there was a connection between the oyster story and the CO2. But knowing it on that level and getting it understood well enough to get it published are two different things. This is the first scientific publication about this particular problem,” says Hales.

Hales says scientists found that oyster larvae are particularly vulnerable to changes in water chemistry during the first 24 hours of their lives. That’s when they build their first shells.

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