Baby oyster larvae build most of their shells within the first forty-eight hours of life by using dissolved calcium carbonate in seawater.

But increasing ocean acidity caused by carbon pollution is changing the chemistry of the water.

Waldbusser: “That essentially makes it harder for them to make a shell.”

That’s George Waldbusser, an assistant professor of ocean ecology at Oregon State University. He says the oyster cannot begin feeding until it has a shell, so the longer it takes – the less likely it is to become a strong, healthy adult oyster.

Source: “Ocean Acidification Killing Oysters by Inhibiting Cell Formation,” Oregon State University

When levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean began increasing about a decade ago, oyster fisheries in the Pacific Northwest were hit hard. But new monitoring systems are helping the fisheries adapt.

Waldbusser: “So the hatcheries can actually see when the water’s good and bad. And then the other thing that the hatcheries are doing are buffering water to help improve the chemistry for the larvae while they grow them in the hatchery.”

These new techniques have helped oyster hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest recover. But the local wild population and farmed oysters in other regions are struggling. So the hatchery owners are now sharing their knowledge and expertise with other oyster growers around the world.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Top Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Study: Ocean acidification killing oysters by inhibiting cell formation
Saturation-state sensitivity of marine bivalve larvae to ocean acidification

David Appell

A regular contributor to Yale Climate Connections since 2012, David Appell, Ph.D., is a freelance writer living in Salem, Oregon, specializing in the physical sciences, technology, and the environment. His...