Ocean Acidification, Warming May Impact Culturing Of Pearls In Oysters

First Posted: Jan 20, 2016 12:15 PM EST

Ocean acidification and warming may disrupt the formation of pearls, according to a new study. The increasing acidification of ocean water tends to weaken oyster shells, which reduces the chances of pearl formation on the inside. However, the researchers found that these mollusks may be adapting to the changes better than previously thought.  

The ocean absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere, as a result the water becomes more acidic. Many studies have shown that that pearl oysters tend to produce weaker shells under such conditions, which reduces the oysters' chances of survival.

While ocean acidity affects the oysters, increasing temperature may actually play a role in oyster health, according to the researchers. The researchers combined acidity and high temperature to determine how it affects pearl oysters.

The team tested oyster over a period of two months under varying water temperature and pH conditions. They found that acidity results in weaker shells, however, the effect was not the same when the water temperature was high. The team concluded that warm oceans can shield the shells from the effects of acidic ocean water.

The findings of this study were published in Environmental Science & Technology.

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