Oysters are being farmed in several locations in California; the bad news is that ocean acidification — the absorption of carbon dioxide into the sea, a direct result of high levels of carbon in the atmosphere — is a direct threat to that industry.
Hog Island Oyster Co. in Marshall, an operation north of San Francisco on Tomales Bay was visited. Tessa Hill, who’s been researching ocean acidification at Bodega Marine Laboratory for eight years. Hill studies how changes in marine chemistry impact a variety of marine animals, including oysters, whose shells are getting thinner, smaller and more susceptible to predators. Her research looks at current conditions and develop a baseline for tracking the effects of climate change going forward.
Ocean acidification, like everything associated with climate change, is probably going to get worse before it gets better. But in addition to gathering data that Hog Island can use to protect their crop, understanding the impact of climate change and ocean acidification can help us make those connections less theoretical and more real.